Tune Up Your Refrigerator
Your refrigerator is probably the largest user of electricity in your apartment. Like a car that is serviced regularly, a well-maintained refrigerator uses less energy. Vacuum the condenser coils annually, defrost whenever ice in the freezer gets 1/4 inch thick, and replace worn door gaskets. Use a thermometer to ensure that it is operating at the optimum temperature (40° F in the refrigerator section, 0° F in the freezer).
If your refrigerator has a “power-saver” switch, use it according to the manufacturer’s directions. (These refrigerator tune-up tips are equally applicable to freezers.)
Put a Lid on Cooking Costs
Use your oven efficiently by cooking several dishes at once. Avoid preheating the oven, and don’t open the door while food is cooking. Use flat bottom pots with tight fitting lids on top of the range, and avoid heating small pans on large burners.
Temperature controlled burner elements, pressure cookers and microwave ovens are all energy savers.
Be Bright About Lighting
Everyone realizes that leaving lights burning in empty rooms is wasteful, but few people think about the cost of over lighting. Use lower wattage bulbs, dimmers, or lamps with three-way switches to match lighting levels to activities.
For the same amount of light, fluorescent bulbs use only one-quarter of the electricity required by incandescent bulbs — and they last much longer. Where possible, replace incandescent bulbs with screw-in fluorescent lamps.
Cool Down Mid-summer Electric Bills
Unnecessary cooling wastes energy and money. On sunny days, close shades or blinds to decrease solar heating. Set your air conditioner’s controls to cool your apartment to about 78° F, and turn your air conditioner off when you leave your apartment. If you install a low-cost timer, you can set it to turn the air conditioner back on a half hour before you return, thereby saving money without sacrificing comfort. When outside temperatures drop in the evening, turn off the air conditioner and open a window. Keep the air conditioner’s filter and cooling fins clean for efficient operation. Also, try to limit cooking during hot weather, or use an outside vented kitchen exhaust fan.
Invest In Energy Efficiency
Some tenants do not own the major appliances in their apartments. If you own an appliance and are thinking of replacing it, be sure to learn about the energy efficiency ratings of competing models. An energy efficient refrigerator, freezer or air conditioner may use 20% less energy than an inefficient model with the same capacity and features.
Don’t buy more appliances than you need. Size is important too — oversized refrigerators and air conditioners cost more to buy and more to operate. Remember, too, that convenience features like self-cleaning ovens, self-defrosting refrigerators, and instant-on televisions increase energy usage. You can save substantially by selecting appliances wisely. For example, choosing an efficient 14 cubic foot refrigerator with manual defrost, rather than an inefficient 18 cubic foot model with automatic defrost, can cut your electricity costs for refrigeration almost in half.
Run your dishwasher or clothes washer only when you have a full load — but don’t overload it. Be sure to clean your dryer’s lint filter before each load.
Replace incandescent bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which give off less heat and cost a fraction of the energy.
Button Up For Winter
You may not be able to control the amount of heat in your building, but you can make the most of what you get by moving obstructing furniture and draperies away from radiators, baseboard units, and air registers. Placing an insulated aluminum foil deflector behind each radiator will also make your apartment warmer.
Prevent heat loss by installing low-cost caulking, weatherstripping, or interior plastic storm windows, and cover or remove air conditioners for the winter.
Adjust your thermostat — 68 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. Thermostats in homes with infants, elderly, or ill individuals should be set higher as you think appropriate.
During the day, keeping your shades and curtains open can help make your room warmer. In the evening, close them to retain heat.
Use a ceiling fan to circulate warm air.
Preventative equipment maintenance can help reduce energy consumption costs.
One Safety Precaution
Never use your range or oven to warm your apartment. Operating an electric or gas stove as a space heater can damage the heating elements and could start a fire!
Finally, A Warm Thought For Your Landlord…
If your apartment building is not comfortable during the winter, an inefficient heating system, inadequate insulation, poor weatherstripping, or missing storm windows may be at fault.
For typical annual operating costs of major appliances, see these Appliance Costs.