5 Ways to Make Your Rental More Energy Efficient

Renters can often get stuck with carpets in undesirable colors, bland wallpaper, old furniture and pet fees that double vet bills. But when it comes to energy, there are more ways to make a rental a home sweet home for your wallet and Mother Nature. Though they can’t do anything about that unsightly olive green couch, a pair of energy-efficiency experts divulged how to make your seasonal or permanent rental more energy efficient.

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Upgrade Lighting

Interior of contemporary living room and dining room is back

LED lights can save on energy costs image: poplasen

Swap out incandescent lights for compact fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs in table lamps. According to Energy Star, CFLs use a whopping 75 percent less energy than regular light bulbs. If every US home replaced one incandescent bulb, we would save enough energy each year to light 3 million homes and avert greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from about 800,000 cars. Though LEDs tend to be more costly than CFLs, they last longer and do not contain mercury, making them easier to dispose of when they do burn out. Jay Best, owner of Green Audit USA and founding member of Long Island Green Homes Initiative and Energy First, also touts the way LEDs light up a room. “LED bulbs have much better lighting quality and turn on faster than [CFLs and incandescents].”  When it’s light out, enjoy nature’s free energy source by opening window shades, suggested Phil Van Horne, CEO and Founder of Blue Rock Energy.

Use Smart Power Strips

Best especially recommended smart power strips for people who are frequently out-and-about. “They go into stand-by mode if you’re not home,” he said. One word of warning: If you plug your DVR into a strip, make sure it’s a full-power one or risk having to fighting wonky WiFi to watch The Walking Dead online.

Hot Water

Reduce hot water temperature to 120 degrees image: tarek el sombati

Reduce hot water temperature to 120 degrees image: tarek el sombati

Most homeowners have the water heater temperature set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Van Horne suggested asking the landlord to reduce it to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to make your rental more energy efficient. “[The water heater then] uses less energy and the [temperature] won’t be a notable difference for most.” According to energy.gov, this reduces mineral buildup and corrosion in water heater pipes and can save $36-61 annually in standby losses (heat lost from water heater into surrounding basement area) and more than $400 in consumption losses (from water demand or use in the home).

Find Energy Star Appliances

Though a rental may come with a dishwasher, washer-dryer and fridge, renters have choices when it comes to other appliances like countertop microwaves, flat screen TVs and air conditioning units. Best advised to look for a blue label from Energy Star, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program that uses a third-party certification process to find the most energy-efficient products.  Consider anything labeled “Most Efficient,” a new distinction for 2016, the best of the best.

Educate Climate Control Settings

On-the-go types can control climate in their homes with a tap of an iPhone image: people images

On-the-go types can control climate in their homes with a tap of an iPhone image: people images

If heat and air conditioning are not included in rent, Best said to look into smart or WiFi enabled thermostats. “The best ones like Nest, Ecobee and Honeywell will actually learn when you come home…and will adjust the heat and cooling to your schedule,” Best said. If you have a less structured schedule, the thermostat, like your significant other, may struggle to figure you out. Good news: “You can also access them through your cell phone.”

beth ann clyde

beth ann clyde

Beth Ann Clyde is a Digital Editor of Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email bethann@lipulse.com or reach out on Twitter @BAClyde.