Whether you’re wanting to decrease your personal carbon footprint or just save money on utilities (or both), it’s never a bad idea to be a little more environmentally conscious. It’s easy to think about saving water and electricity, but you may not know where to start. With just a few minor changes you can easily make the earth, and your bank account, a little happier.
1. Unplug your devices. Just because an electronic device is turned off doesn’t mean it’s not still using electricity. Electronics like TVs, entertainment systems, and gaming systems are called “vampire” devices because they stay in a standby mode when “off” and suck electricity. This is to help the reaction time so they can turn on at a moment’s notice, but if you want to cut back on electricity you should consider turning them completely off and take the extra few seconds for them to turn back on. An easy way to do this is to get a power strip and turn that off and on, or you can get a smart power strip that automatically cuts power to inactive devices.
2. Help your furnace and A/C do their job. Controlling the temperature in your apartment can take a lot of energy, which can be very costly. A few adjustments on your part can help your heating and cooling system work efficiently, which saves energy and money. First, make sure none of your furniture is covering or blocking any air vents. Promoting air flow in a room will help it heat up or cool down faster. Also if your windows or doors are drafty you can get a draft stopper or roll up a towel to keep the inside air in and the outside air out. Programming your thermostat is another simple way to keep costs down. There’s no need to have the A/C or heat running all day if you’re at work 8+ hours, so by programming it to turn off while you’re not home you’re able to save 8+ hours of energy that would otherwise have been wasted.
3. Maximize your appliances’ efficiency. Larger appliances like refrigerators, washers, and dryers are very convenient and necessary, but can also use large amounts of energy. The refrigerator alone may be up to 25% of your entire energy usage, so it goes without saying that you want these appliances to be as efficient as possible. The first thing is to do what you can to keep things clean. Cleaning the lint trap in the dryer before each and every load and dusting the coils and fan at the back of the fridge every few months will keep everything running smoothly and using as little energy as possible. You also want to make sure to only wash and dry full loads instead of wasting water and power on small or half loads.
4. Be more conscious when using electricity or water. This can be as simple as shutting off lights you’re not using and not letting the water run while you’re washing dishes or brushing your teeth. Also keep in mind how long your daily showers take. Each minute in the shower uses an average of 2.1 gallons of water, so if you take longer showers try to get them down to 8-10 minutes maximum. One advantage of renting an apartment is that you don’t have to repair things on your own, so if you ever have a leaky faucet or running toilet let property management know and a maintenance technician can fix it right away.