When I moved into my first place, I couldn't believe how dirty everything was all the time. I found myself dusting and mopping continuously, only to deal with a fresh layer of grime later. After awhile, I realized that the problem was blowing straight out of my air ducts. My ventilation lines were so dirty that it was spreading grime through my house every single time the air clicked on. Fortunately, I called an HVAC contractor who was able to clean my vents to a gleaming shine. I know how big of a difference cleaning up your ventilation system can make, which is why I want to spread the word.
When it comes to reducing the amount of money spent on cooling a home, homeowners have all kinds of options. They can plant shady trees around their house, install windows that have better insulation, or even upgrade to a more energy efficient air conditioner. As a renter, however, you have far fewer options. You don't get to control the landscaping, choose the window glass, or decide when to upgrade the appliances. You may not even get a say in whether or not your apartment gets annual professional heating and air conditioning servicing. So how can an apartment dweller beat the heat and save money on their summer electric bill? Here are some options that will help reduce your cooling costs and improve the chill factor in your apartment.
Turn Off The Oven
When you turn on the oven or the stove, the appliance heats the air around it as well as your food, and your air conditioner has to work extra hard to keep up. In a small apartment, the effect of a hot appliance like an oven can be very dramatic, because there isn't as much room for the heat to spread out in. Every time you cook a great deal on a hot day, you're costing yourself more on the next electric bill.
Fight the heat by keeping the oven and stove off on hot days. If you have space for it outside of your apartment building, set up a grill and cook outside. If you don't have outdoor space to use, though, there are still plenty of options. You can make whole meals in the microwave with the right recipe. You can use a slow cooker to make delicious dishes that will fill your home with the smell of cooking food, but not with heat. Or you can skip the cooking entirely and opt for cold meals, like sandwiches and fruit. If you do need to cook in the oven, try to do it after dark when the outdoor temperatures are lower. You can do the same with other heat-producing appliances like a dishwasher or a washing machine.
Use Your Fans
The ceiling fans in your apartment or the standing fans that you bring in on your own can help you maintain a comfortable temperature in your apartment while reducing the strain on your air conditioner. While fans don't actually cool they air, they do circulate it, and they can make your air conditioner's job easier if they circulate it in the right direction. In the summer, that means pushing the hot air up and out of your apartment.
With a ceiling fan, this is easy. During the summer, you should set your ceiling fan to run counter-clockwise. You probably remember from science class that heat rises, and cool air sinks to the floor. This setting pulls the cool air up from the floor and spreads it around the room, lowering the temperature and creating a breeze. You can also try shutting the air conditioner off for a while and creating a wind tunnel with box fans. Close the windows near where you plan to place the fan, and open up the windows on the opposite side of the apartment.
Program Your Thermostat
If you don't already have a programmable thermostat, you may have to shell out for it yourself, if your landlord doesn't want to. However, basic programmable thermostats sell for between $25 and $80, and it's worth the one time cost to save every month on your electric bill. Most basic units can be installed as a DIY project, and don't require professional assistance.
Programmable thermostats save money in several ways. They allow you to be more precise when setting the temperature in your home, and they also allow you to automatically shut your air conditioning unit off when you're not home. You can program the unit to turn back on shortly before you arrive back home, so that your apartment will be comfortable when you get there. You can also set it to raise the temperature at night while you're asleep and don't need the cold air as much. With careful programming, you can save 15% or more on your energy bill.
One more thing that you can do is change your air conditioner filters frequently – eliminating dust-filled filters will help keep your air conditioner in its best shape. Just because you live in an apartment doesn't mean that you can't save money on your cooling costs.