We’re living in unprecedented times, friends.
COVID-19 has meant changes to the way we interact with loved ones, care for our kids, manage our households and get work done (for the lucky ones who can work remotely.)
Millions of U.S. households are expected to face financial burdens in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and the full toll of the impacts are not yet fully known.
But there’s some good news! If you are facing reduced hours or job loss and are worried about making your rent or mortgage payment this month, stay calm — President Trump said Wednesday March 18 that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will suspend “all foreclosures and evictions” through the end of April and there are things you can do to keep your own household costs under control - even if you aren’t a homeowner.
How can I take control of my energy costs when I don’t own my home?
A lot of tips you’ll find on blogs about saving energy in the home require changes to the building’s structure -- things like adding insulation to the attic or installing double-paned windows -- but those are projects that simply aren’t realistic for apartment dwellers to tackle. Even something as simple as caulking around windows to seal cracks can be sometimes seen as a violation of the lease and the last thing you want to do is cause trouble for the homeowner.
But there’s no need for renters to give up hope for saving energy and lowering their energy bills.
Little changes you CAN make can add up quickly. The best way to save on energy is to use less of it, which anyone can do. If you live in an apartment, give these tips a try:
- Talk to your landlord. There’s no harm in asking the building’s owner to make upgrades that will save you money as well as increase the value of the property down the line. If the answer is no (and you’re feeling brave), ask if they’re ok with you making some changes yourself and if the owner will reimburse you.
- Report when things go awry! Let your landlords know about leaky faucets and toilets or appliances that don’t work immediately so he or she can fix them.
- If you don’t control the temperature in your unit, ask the landlord to adjust the heater or air conditioner to a temperature that’s more energy efficient. If you’re really lucky, maybe he or she can give you a break on your rent as a result of the money he’ll save on energy!
- Lay down rugs on bare floors for more insulation during the winter. Take them up during the summer to help keep cooler. Not only will you reduce your bill, but your place just might look a bit jazzier, too!
- If you’re in charge of replacing appliances when they conk out, look for ENERGY STAR appliances, which meet government standards to use less energy. The ENERGY STAR rating doesn’t just apply to dishwashers and refrigerators the landlord provides – it applies to other appliances renters own, such as TVs, laptops, printers and cable boxes.
- Hang light-colored curtains or blinds to reflect the sun and keep the heat out during hot summer days. In the winter, be sure to keep the coverings open during the day to warm your home.
- Unplug your appliances, electronics and chargers when you’re not using them. Anything with a standby light that glows even when it’s off is still drawing power. An easy way to do this is to plug electronics into a power strip and just turn off the strip’s one switch. This is especially helpful if you have an entertainment system with a TV and several other components.
- Roll up a towel and push it against a door or window sill that doesn’t close tightly. This will keep air from leaking in or out and save unnecessary costs on your heating and cooling.
- Replace light bulbs with more energy-efficient versions. Incandescent light bulbs produce a lot of heat, so changing out these bulbs can also keep your apartment cooler and waste less energy.
- Use the microwave or toaster oven instead of the oven or stove when possible. Microwaves use less energy and time to cook a snack or dinner than using the stovetop or oven. Not keen on nuking your food? A small toaster oven can work just as well as a large oven but save all the energy required to heat the larger space.
- Don’t put furniture in front of (or over) vents. This can block or redirect air where you don’t need it, like the area behind your couch.
You’ve got enough to worry about - we hope these tips and tricks can lessen the burden of energy costs during this tumultuous time.