Being green and saving energy might be in style, but college students also love to save money, especially as it’s typically in short supply. And without any planning or forethought, students can wind up paying hundreds extra in power, phone, water, Internet, and cable bills. Thankfully, tips and techniques exist to help mitigate the costs of these utilities to make living on your own much less expensive. With these four tips in particular, we hope to appeal to your environmental side, while helping you keep some money in your wallet.
1) Choose Efficient Appliances
In many apartments, you have little control over which appliances you have, as they are often included with the setup. But if you are expected to provide one or more (like a washer and dryer), opt for Energy Star Certified appliances, as they are significantly more efficient than their counterparts.
2) Opt for Better Bulbs
Another option for cutting your energy bill is to use LED light bulbs. Only a year ago, these bulbs were prohibitively expensive for the average college student, but retail stores like Lowes, Home Depot, and Ikea all stock LED bulbs at or around the $10 mark. And since they’re more durable than old-school incandescent bulbs, you’re saving money by not replacing bulbs as often. Keep your eye out for sales and regularly check the clearance section.
3) Help Your Thermostat
It’s easy to say “Watch the thermostat settings and don’t over-use it,” but it’s hard to implement that policy without a fancy programmable thermostat – something many college apartments simply don’t have. Instead, help out your thermostat and energy bill by dressing for the season. When it’s hot outside, wear lighter clothing so you can keep your air conditioner at a higher temperature, and when it’s cold outside, wear sweaters and pants around the house so your heater can be set lower.
It also goes without saying that using fans can help with hot weather, but ceiling fans allow you to raise the thermostat by four degrees without noticing a loss of cooling effect. In the winter, ceiling fans can be used to circulate warmer air downward to allow more efficient use of the heating. Insulating hot water heater pipes can also save you considerably on monthly energy bills.
Likewise, make sure heating ducts are insulated in the apartment. Up to 60% percent of the heating or cooling effects of a home’s heating and air conditioning system can be lost to conduction. Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.
If the living space uses radiators, placing a heat resistant reflective barrier between the radiator and the wall can greatly increase heating efficiency.
4) Kill the Ambient Power
Lastly, use power strips as kill switches for electronics you’re not actively using. While it’s unlikely you’ll want to turn off your router when you leave the house or go to sleep, your TV, gaming system, audio system, and appliances all use power when they are inactive. Utilize power strips with all non-essential electronics and switch them off when you’re not going to be around.
Going green can take some discipline, but when you start seeing noticeable savings on your utility bills each month, doing the right thing will likely become that much easier!