Sustainable Living: How To Use Less Energy in Your Apartment (and Save Money)

In our Sustainable Living series, we look at how tenants and homeowners are changing their apartments to be more sustainable.

Lower utility bills are a good reason to use less energy, but that’s not all – less energy usage is also good for the environment. However, since so many appliances rely on electricity, it might feel difficult to use less energy. If you’re struggling to find ways to significantly lower your bills while helping the environment, the five ideas below might change that.

1. Set the right temperature

One easy way to lower your energy bill is by lowering your apartment’s temperature. You can decrease your heating cost by up to three percent if you lower your thermostat by one degree. If you lower your thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees, you can lower your bill by 10 percent. Sustainable Living How To Use Less Energy in Your Apartment (and Save Money)

However, if dropping your temperature so low sounds too cold, you can lower your apartment’s temperature while you’re at work. You can also program your thermostat to go lower at certain times of day. If your thermostat doesn’t have an automatic function, you may want to switch to a smart thermostat.

2. Unplug your devices

Plugged-in appliances can quietly raise your annual electricity bill. In fact, unplugging unused devices is a simple way to save $100 to $200 a year. 

Another important reason to unplug your appliances is to protect your devices from possible power surges. Even some small surges can occur when you turn on your apartment’s air conditioner or your refrigerator’s compressor. Over an extended period, these surges can wear down other appliances on the same circuit and shorten their lifespans. Additionally, keeping your devices unplugged can reduce the likelihood of electrical fires.

3. Turn your lights off when you’re not using them

Although your energy bill will decrease when you use the lights less often, the magnitude of this decrease may vary. That said, this consideration is important, as lighting accounts for approximately 20 percent ($200) of an average American’s annual household electricity bills. 

In fact, the least efficient and most expensive bulbs to use are the most common: incandescent bulbs. Turning off lights when they’re not in use, in addition to getting an energy-efficient LED light, can help lower your bill.

4. Use LED lights

LED lights last much longer than incandescent bulbs and use 80 percent less power. If you leave 10 incandescent bulbs on for one hour every day when they could be shut off, you may be adding $24 to your lighting bills every year. However, if you have 10 LED lights on for one hour, you’ll be adding $5 to your bills every year.

5. Hang-dry your clothes

Hang-drying, line drying, or air-drying your clothes without a dryer can also reduce your electricity bill. It also reduces your carbon footprint substantially more than lighting tricks: Air-drying reduces your apartment’s carbon footprint by about 2,400 pounds per year. To learn more about hang-drying, read My First Apartment’s guide to air-drying your clothes

How do you use less energy in your apartment? Sound off in the comments!

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