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How to Make Your Apartment More Energy Efficient

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 [1].
  • Insulate the water heater by buying a water heater blanket [2].
  • Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Dry your clothes outside, or purchase indoor drying racks [3].
  • 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 [4] 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 [5]! 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 [6]!