One thing both apartment renters and home or condo owners can agree on is how quickly utility costs can add up. Depending on the time of year costs of water and electricity can be much higher than anticipated and risk breaking the monthly budgeted amounts. The good news is that with just a few easy changes you can save a ton of money and reduce your carbon footprint while doing so.
Starting in the kitchen there are several ways to easily cut down on water and electricity use and to keep your appliances running efficiently. Since up to 25% of your overall electricity use can be from the refrigerator alone it’s prudent to ensure it’s running properly and efficiently. To do so keep the fridge and freezer as full as you can at all time. If there are more cold items that stay in the fridge and freezer they’ll keep the other items cold as well and make the motor run less and therefore use less energy and last longer. If you live alone or have a hard time keeping your fridge and freezer stocked you can pack it with bags of ice and jugs of water then use the rest of the space for food.
You should also make sure to keep the refrigerator coils and fan clean. Dust can accumulate easily at the back of the fridge, which will hinder the efficiency of the motor. This will lead to the motor running harder and longer which uses up energy and can limit the lifespan of the appliance.
Another way to be more ecologically conscious in the kitchen is to be more aware of water usage. Instead of rinsing dishes under running water before putting them in the dishwasher scrape the scraps off into the trash or compost. If your dishwasher has one, use the auto or power-saving setting to save water and electricity, and let your dishes air dry rather than using the power to heat dry.
The first and easiest thing to do with the living room is to take stock of your furniture and where it’s placed. Is anything covering or blocking vents? If there isn’t sufficient air flow that will cause your A/C and furnace to run more to control the temperature of the room. By positioning the furniture to promote airflow you’ll allow the heating and cooling system to work better and more efficiently, which means it’ll run less and save you energy and money.
Another easy change in the living room (and wherever you have electronics) is to keep an eye out for “vampire” devices. These are electronics like TVs, entertainment systems, gaming systems, and computer chargers even if a computer isn’t connected. “Vampire” devices are named as such because they suck power even when they’re presumably off because they’re in standby mode to have a quicker reaction time when you do want to turn them on. A simple power strip is a quick fix, you just have to remember to shut off the power when you’re not using the devices. You can also purchase a smart power strip that will automatically shut off power to certain devices when they’re not in use.
You should also take a look at your thermostat and think about programming it. There’s no real need to heat or cool an apartment for 8+ hours while you’re gone at work. By programming the thermostat to shut off the heating or cooling system while you’re gone can save a lot of energy and money in the long run. If you set it to turn back on 30-45 minutes before you’re due home you won’t even realize it was off!
In-unit washers and dryers are a huge convenience and save you a lot of time and effort. But they also use a large amount of water and electricity. First of all, make sure to only wash and dry full loads. This is one time you’re allowed to procrastinate a bit if you haven’t accumulated enough clothes yet. Also unless you absolutely need the extra sanitation, always wash your clothes in cold water. For the dryer, clean the lint trap before each and every load and only dry it as long as you have to rather than for the full time allotted.
Similar to the kitchen, the easiest way to save resources and money in the bathroom is to be more conscious about your water usage. Don’t leave the water running when brushing your teeth and be aware of how long you take in the shower. Each minute in the shower uses an average of 2.1 gallons of water, so if you tend to take long showers you can cut it down a few minutes and save at least 5 gallons of water per shower.
Also keep in mind that because you’re renting you have property maintenance there to help. If any of your faucets leak or if your toilet runs alert your property’s management so someone can come and get it taken care of right away.