Renting instead of owning has its advantages, but being a renter can be very frustrating when you're trying to keep your energy bills low. In most rental arrangements, you don't get to choose your large appliances – the apartment building owner or homeowner does. That means that you can't go out and buy the most efficient Energy Star qualified air conditioner when your old one is due for an upgrade, or switch from electric heating and air conditioning to geothermal. You're stuck with whatever your landlord decides on, which may mean a less efficient machine or even making do with your old one for another summer. So how can you bring those unwieldy cooling bills down? Take a look at some tips that can help renters stay cool and save.
Program Your Thermostat
While you may not be able to choose your air conditioner yourself, most landlords won't object to you choosing your own thermostat. You may have to pay for a programmable thermostat out of your own pocket if the owner doesn't want to, but since the basic ones start out at only about $25, this is a small investment to make for a potentially large benefit.
Programmable thermostats don't save money by themselves – they only work if you program them correctly. In theory, you can save the same amount of money with your old thermostat by turning the temperature up when you leave the house every day during the hot season and only cooling the house when you're home. However, the reality is that it's very easy to forget to adjust the thermostat when you're rushing out of the house in the morning. A programmable thermostat makes it easy for you – you set it once, and after that it does the work for you.
The more advanced models can save you even more by allowing you even more flexibility. For example, you can set a programmable thermostat to start cooling the house a half an hour before you get home so that you don't waste energy cooling the house when you're not there, but you can still walk into a comfortable temperature when you get home. However, a programmable thermostat that allows you remote access can let you override and change the original schedule if you find that you're going to be home an hour late. You can save between 15% to 20% or more depending on the features you choose and how you use the thermostat.
Rearrange Your Furniture
One thing that you definitely have control over as a renter is the layout of your furniture and other belongings. And you may find that simply moving things around has a beneficial effect on your energy bills.
In order to cool your home efficiently, the air coming through your vents needs to be able to circulate freely throughout your home. If one or some of your vents or air registers are blocked – perhaps by a sofa or an armoire, or some other heavy piece of furniture – then the air is not flowing freely and your air conditioner has to work harder to cool your home, costing you more money. Take a look around to see if any of your vents or registers are blocked, and if so, take the time to do some furniture rearranging. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Consider Window Units
You don't necessarily have to use the air conditioner that your landlord provides if it's not the most energy efficient choice for your home. If your landlord supplies a central AC unit that's an energy hog, you may save money by opting to use your own window unit air conditioners instead.
You're probably thinking that this can't possibly be right – aren't central air conditioners more efficient in general than window units? Not necessarily! While it's true that a central air conditioner is more efficient when you're thinking purely in terms of equipment efficiency, it turns out that equipment efficiency isn't everything – opting for window units instead can save energy.
It all comes down to how you use the equipment. Window units tend to save money because usually their owners are only cooling one or two rooms at a time, whereas a central AC cools all rooms the whole time it's running. So, with window units, you're only paying for the cooling you need, and no more. Because window units tend to be noisier, you're more likely to remember to turn them off when you leave a room or start to feel chilled – with a quiet central AC, it's easy to forget you have an appliance running. You may even put on a sweater before you remember to turn the air conditioner off. Just remember to choose an Energy Star qualified window unit for maximum savings.
When you rent, you sacrifice some control over your living space, but that doesn't mean that you can't save money or keep your cool when the temperatures start rising. These energy-saving ideas will help you do both.
For more tips and information, contact air conditioning repair and installation companies in your area.