Welcome to Energy in Your Twenties! This series will help college students, recent college grads, and young professionals prepare for their first experiences with an electricity bill. Whether it’s figuring out how to choose an electricity provider, how to curb your roommate’s excessive electricity use, or how to make homemade dishes without cranking up your energy usage, this series will tackle the questions and obstacles people face during the first couple of years of paying their own electricity bill.
While summer is a wildly anticipated season for most of the country, for Texans, summer can often mean 100+ degree weather and unnaturally high electricity bills. If this is your first summer season paying an electricity bill, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise the next time you check your online energy account or open your bill. And as a renter, this is even more frustrating because you might think you have no control over your home’s energy use and high electricity bill.
But fear not! Even as a renter, you do have control over your energy use and as a result, can influence your electricity bill every month. In this month’s edition of Energy in Your Twenties, we’ll teach you tips and tricks on how to make your apartment energy efficient this summer and keep your electricity bill from soaring too high.
1. Set Your Thermostat to 78°F
78°F is the optimal temperature to set your thermostat to while you’re at home during the summer. For every degree you lower your thermostat from 78°, you will be increasing your energy usage from 6 – 8%. So if your thermostat is currently at 74°F, you could be saving 24% if you set your thermostat to 78°!
Extra Step: Set your thermostat a couple degrees higher when you leave the house for more than 2 hours.
2. Change Your Air Filters
At a minimum, you should be changing your air filters every 3 months. The dirtier your air filters are, the harder your AC system has to work to keep your home cool. And let’s not forget about those pesky allergies that could rise when your air filters are dirty!
Extra Step: Check your air filters once a month to ensure they don’t need to be changed earlier than the 3 month mark.
3. Use Curtains Strategically
Blinds and curtains are great for keeping your home cool during those hot summer months. Keeping your blinds and/or curtains closed during the day prevents the sun from warming up your house, and causing your AC to work longer and harder to keep your home cool. At night, take advantage of the lower temperatures and open your blinds/curtains to help keep your home cooler.
Extra Step: Invest in heavier and thicker curtains to keep the sun’s heat out of your home.
4. Use Your Microwave
Avoid using your oven or stove on extremely hot days. Both appliances heat up your home, and as a result, cause your AC to work harder and longer to keep your home cooler. Instead, use your microwave to heat up food faster without heating up your home!
Extra Step: Use your oven and/or stove only at night when temperatures are lower.
5. Air Dry Your Clothes
Take advantage of the warmer weather and choose to air dry your clothes instead of using your internal dryer. If you don’t have a patio or balcony, you can set up a clothes line inside or even just hang clothes from a hanger. Make sure to hang clothes in areas of your home that get lots of natural light as your clothes will dry much faster with the help of the sun’s heat.
Extra Step: Wash your clothes in cold water beforehand to save even more energy on your laundry days.
6. Use Ceiling or Portable Fans
Instead of turning down the temperature on your thermostat when you’re hot, turn on your fan to help keep you cool. Using your fan during the summer months can help you raise your thermostat by 4°F without sacrificing your comfort. Turning on fans can help you keep your thermostat at 78°F, thus helping you decrease your energy usage!
Extra Step: Remember, fans cool people not rooms. Make sure to turn off your fans when you leave the room to further decrease your energy usage.
7. Lower Your Water Heater Settings
Heating water accounts for 18% of your energy usage. As a result, turning down the temperature on your water heater can help you lower your energy usage. We recommend setting your water heater to 120°F to help you save on energy without completely giving up hot water.
Extra Step: On extremely hot days, take a nice, cold shower to help you cool off instead of turning down your thermostat.
While as a renter you may not have control over huge purchases, like what type of AC your apartment has and whether your house is properly insulated, you do still have control over your home’s energy usage. Put the power in your hands and make your apartment more energy efficient this summer season!