Whether you're hoping to ease your impact on the planet or just want to save a few dollars, reducing your energy use can help you get there. In fact, 10 percent of renters in a recent Rent.com survey said that utilities are their biggest monthly expense, coming in third after monthly rent and groceries.
Heating and cooling your apartment, especially those in regions with extreme temperature shifts, can be among the more expensive components of your utility bill. Luckily, making some easy adjustments in your home can dramatically reduce how much you spend on energy.
Here are several tips to reduce energy consumption and maintain comfortable temperatures in your home this winter:
courtesy of PopularMechanics.com.
1 Replace Worn Weatherstripping
Worn and torn weatherstripping around doors and windows creates drafts and lets in cold air. Seven to 12 percent of a home's heat loss occurs around windows and doors, according to Black Hills Energy, and these leaks often prompt homeowners to turn up their furnace to keep comfy. Even if they don't turn it up, they're losing warm air, causing the furnace to work harder. “Weatherstripping around doors, and caulking around doors and windows, can cut down on drafts,” says Jeff Rogers, president of the Energy Audit Institute, an energy audit training and certification company in Springfield, N.J.
Some weatherstripping needs to be replaced every few years because of wear. Replacing it is typically as simple as pulling off the old and tacking on the new.
2 Adjust Door Thresholds
If you can see daylight under your front door, then you're losing the indoor air you've paid to heat. “If the door is not in contact with the threshold, the air is going right under the door,” Rogers said.
Some thresholds have four or five screws that let you adjust the height to eliminate a gap. Turn the screws counterclockwise to lift the threshold until daylight is mostly gone. A little light in the corners is okay, but don't raise the threshold so high that it interferes with opening and closing the door. And the door shouldn't drag on the threshold or it'll wear out the weatherstripping.
3 Eliminate Drafts Around Electrical Boxes
Electrical boxes in your exterior walls are notoriously drafty because insulation isn't always placed behind and around them correctly. “You want to try to stop air from flowing around the box and through the box,” Rogers says.
To stop the leaks, remove the cover plates and fill small gaps around the boxes with acrylic latex caulk. For large gaps, use foam sealant. Then place a foam gasket over the outlet or switch and replace the cover plate. The gaskets cost about $1.10 for a two-pack. “The gasket is going to save you money for as long as that outlet is in your house,” Rogers says. “That small investment pays off for as long as you own your home.””
For more practical energy savings ideas please check out the rest of this article at popularmechanics.com.
Here's a few more easy to implement ideas. Put a space heater in the place where your family gathers, like the living room, and turn down the furnace temperature. The rest of the house will be cooler but you'll be warm, and you can save 3 percent on your heating costs for every degree below 70 F that you turn down the furnace, according to utility company Pepco. You'll see those savings all winter long.
Windows account for 25 percent of heat loss in homes. Covering the windows and sliding patio doors with clear plastic film can reduce that loss. Just by using that plastic, you're going to save about 14 percent on your heating bill.
Despite the freezing temps outside, the sun's rays still bring some heat into your home. They're free, so take advantage of them—the added heat will reduce how much your furnace needs to run. Keep your curtains open during the day, especially on the south side of the house where you get more direct sunlight. Trim any tree branches or shrubs that block the sunlight around your windows to maximize the gains. Close the curtains at night so they act as barriers to reduce drafts.