Renters Have the Power to Save Electricity
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 33 percent of Americans lease/rent their homes. Unfortunately, many lease/rental agreements forbid major alterations to rental properties and it often seems that you can’t do much to control your electric bills. But don’t worry, renters! Consider using simple, low-cost, energy-efficient tips from Marlboro Electric Cooperative to improve the efficiency of your home.
Electronics and Appliances
The U.S. Department of Energy consumer website, EnergySavers.gov, offers this guideline: If you won’t use your computer for more than 20 minutes, shut off the monitor; if you won’t use it for more than two hours, shut the whole thing down.
Most electronics feature a glowing light when turned off—that means they are still drawing electricity. A quick fix for this “vampire,” or phantom, load involves plugging various devices into a power strip. Simply flip the switch on the power strip when you are not using the devices.
If an appliance needs to be replaced, while your hands are most likely tied when it comes to the types of major appliances installed, lobby your landlord to purchase an ENERGY STAR model. Visit energystar.gov for more information on particular products.
A roll of weather stripping and a tube of caulk can go a long way in saving energy and money. Check for gaps around doors and windows. Can you see daylight? If so, ask your landlord if you can seal cracks and reduce air flow.
The Air Sealing section on EnergySavers.gov offers tips on the right types of weather stripping and caulk for your residence. While you’re talking to your landlord, ask if he or she will pay the cost if you do the labor.
Look to your windows for additional savings. Of course, you probably can’t replace them, but if they’re drafty in the winter, try sealing kits you can purchase at any home improvement store. These plastic sheets fit over your window to block drafts. Curtains can also help—close them in the summer to block sunlight, and open them in the winter to let the warmth in.
Heating & cooling the home typically makes up about 48 percent of your utility bill. Set your thermostat as low as comfortable in the winter and as high as comfortable in the summer. During the winter months, take advantage of heat from sunlight. Open draperies and shades during the day to allow natural light to heat your home. Remember to close them in the evenings as the temperature drops and windowpanes become chilly.
Does your home have window air conditioning units? Insulate the units from the outside with a tight-fitting cover, available at your local home improvement center or hardware store. This keeps air from escaping outside.
Another way to save energy is to make sure your water heater is set at the lowest comfortable setting. Check the temperature on your water heater. Have you experienced scalding hot water when taking a shower? If so, it's likely that your water heater is set too high – which is a waste of energy. These devices don’t need to be set at more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit for daily showers and chores. Older models of water tanks are often not insulated, which can be easily remedied by covering them with an insulating jacket.
Other ways to save
Leasing or renting an older home or apartment? Odds are you have single-pane windows and old or missing caulk. Don’t let the heat or cool air seep indoors! Apply caulk around window frames, sashes and door panels to combat air leaks.
A few more simple tips can help shave your electric bills:
• When lightbulbs burn out, replace them with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). If they have an ENERGY STAR label, these bulbs typically last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use 75 percent less electricity.
• Practicing energy-efficient habits is another great way to reduce energy use. Always turn off your lights when leaving a room.
• Use your vacuum to clean coils in the bottom panel of your refrigerator. Watch thevideo by Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives to learn how or search “Together We Save refrigerator coils” on Youtube.com to watch a video.
• Similarly, keep your dryer vents clean. Clogged refrigerator coils and dryer vents will cause your appliances to work harder and increase the risk of fire.
• Don’t allow furniture to block air vents.
Call Your Co-op
When you’re trying to save energy and money, it’s good to know you’re not alone. To learn more ways to be energy efficient around the home, contact Marlboro Electric at (843) 479-3855.
Sources: U.S. Department of Energy (EnergySavers.gov), Cooperative Research Network, Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives