How to Make Your Apartment More Energy Efficient

Posted by Amanda on September 8, 2009

When I was a child, I remember my mother armed with a hairdryer in my bedroom. She covered first my one window, and then the other one with plastic sheets, and then sealed them into place with hot air. I remember crying for hours that night and pleading with her to take it down because I could not see the clear and crisp outlines of the winter moon. Now, as an adult, I understand what she was doing: making our 300+ year old farmhouse more energy efficient. She was trying to save us money.

Summer is winding down, kids are back at school, and we have had the first few crisp mornings. Now is a great opportunity to discuss some ways to make your apartment more energy efficient before the upcoming winter season.  

Strategies to Make Your Apartment More Energy Efficient

Do you live in an apartment? Here are some temporary modifications to your routine that you can do in the short-term to immediately change your energy consumption (please note, the items that I suggest you purchase can be taken with you when you move out):

  • Change out your light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Insulate the water heater by buying a water heater blanket.
  • Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Dry your clothes outside, or purchase indoor drying racks.
  • Turn your freezer/refrigerator down a few degrees.
  • Vacuum the refrigerator coils clean (located on the back), as well as move your refrigerator a few inches away from the wall.
  • Wash clothes in cold water only.
  • Purchase insulated curtains/shades, and close them during the day when you are at work.
  • Make sure your furniture is arranged so that it is not blocking any vents or radiators.
  • Purchase a draft guard to place at the bottom of your door leading to the outside where temperature-controlled air can escape from your apartment.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use because they still draw electricity from your outlets.
  • Install a low flow shower water head.

It is also a great idea to purchase or borrow a Kill-a-Watt device. These are great—you plug your appliances into them, and see how much electricity each uses. With this sort of information, you can then make more informed decisions to increase your energy efficiency.

For example, I have a halogen bulb lamp in my living room. It turns out that it uses more electricity than our large television, which I discovered in my kill-a-watt experiment! Knowing this information allowed us to focus our money on purchasing a more energy efficient lamp instead of nixing the fish tank, which uses much less energy than we originally thought.

Check back tomorrow when I detail how to make your home more energy efficient!

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Comments to How to Make Your Apartment More Energy Efficient

  1. Do you mean “Turn your freezer/refrigerator *up* a few degrees”?


  2. Steve: Absolutely–thanks for the catch!

    Amanda L. Grossman

  3. Putting EVERYTHING on power-strips, and shutting them off as I head to work has had the most effect on my bottom line. It’s much easier than unplugging each and every appliance.


  4. Christine: Absolutely! That is what we do for our entertainment center (the place with about 1,000 wires it seems!). It is much easier to have other people in your household unplug one plug as well, especially if they are not as committed to being frugal as you are:). Thanks for the comment!

    Amanda L. Grossman

  5. This is one of the only things I’ve seen describing what we apartment-dwellers can do to conserve energy. Everyone wants to talk about what to do in a home, but that doesn’t help me much! for instance, I can’t switch out my appliances for energy-efficient ones; I get what I get from the apartment management. Very rarely are we apartment people given ideas that help us. We’re the forgotten ones. So, thank you for thinking of us. Any more ideas would be great!


  6. Hello Linda!

    You are most welcome. You are right about there not being a lot of energy-conserving information designated for us apartment people–I have only rented (until tomorrow, when my fiancee and I close on our first home!!). I hope you found this useful, and will definitely let you know of more ideas:).

    Amanda L. Grossman

  7. In the same vein as Christine’s comment, I absolutely love the power strip we purchased that allows you to control everything off of the on/off status of our TV (if you turn the TV off, the surround sound and dvd player also turn off and vice versa). It does still draw power for the tv while it’s off, but it cuts down a ton on the vampirism of the the other things with shiny lights and clocks and whatnot. I suppose it doesn’t work for people who like their DVD clocks or whatever, but we don’t pay attn. The strip we have also has some normal outlets in case you have things that you don’t want power cut for if the tv is off (lamps, cable boxes, etc).

    And yes, thanks so much for remembering us apartment dwellers!


  8. Hey Rae!

    Thanks for the comment. Good job on the powerstrip! I am at home today making our new house more energy efficient as we speak–and hooking things up to a powerstrip on our entertainment system is next on my list.

    Have a great weekend!

    Amanda L. Grossman

  9. Amanda,

    Do not turn your fridge above 40 degrees F. Bacteria bloom like… well, bacteria when temps hit 40°.

    The Ghost of Jeff Lynne

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