Electric meter showing high energy usage in an apartment.

Slash Your Apartment Utility Bill

With record heat taking over much of the country, high utility bills are becoming the norm. If you live in an apartment, you might think that there is little you can do about the cost, but you might be surprised. Take a look at 7 hacks that can save you big on your utility expense.

1) Check Your Window & Door Seals

Leaky door and window seals allow air to enter and leave your apartment home. This means that during the summer months, hot air is coming into your home and the cold air (that you paid for) is leaving it.

Luckily, bad door and window seals are easy to detect and even easier to repair. Simply run your hand around the perimeter of your windows and doors and feel for airflow. On a hot summer day, it does not take much to detect a leak.

If you find leaks, ask your apartment landlord or management to replace them, but go beyond just asking for them to be replaced because of lost air conditioning. To make the repair more urgent, stress the other problems of bad seals, such as the fact that they allow insects into your home. This is more likely to get a speedy response.

2) Reduce Your Lighting Costs

If you have a look at the bulbs in your apartment and the entire lighting system in general, it is probably not very efficient. Addressing this wasted money can make a real impact on your utility bill. Here are a few things that you can do.

Buy LED Bulbs

LED bulbs use a fraction of the energy that a standard light bulb does. Replacing your bulbs with an LED version can reduce your bill, but it is certainly not a free option due to the higher cost of LED bulbs. Depending on the size of your apartment, you might need around 200 dollars worth of bulbs. The good thing is that LED bulbs last for years, so you can take them with you when you move. Just save the old bulbs and swap them out if you change apartments.

Unplug Some Bulbs

Many lighting fixtures contain 4 or 6 bulbs and produce way more light than is needed. Unplugging a few bulbs can cut your energy usage and dim the light down to a more appropriate level.

Turn The Lights Off

This is the oldest tip in the book, but it is worth saying. Turn off your lights when you are not using them.

3) Turn Your Thermostat Up

Sometimes sacrifices need to be made in order to save the money you need to on apartment utilities. Turning your thermostat up a few degrees will certainly save you money, but it is usually not a very popular option. Here are some ways to maintain your comfort level after adjusting your thermostat for savings.

Dress Appropriately

Dressing for the weather is the best way to maintain your comfort. If you are at home, shorts and a tank top are best. While you are at it, ditch the shoes for some flip flops or just go with bare feet. You might be surprised at just how much heat you lose through your feet.

Use Fans

If you have ceiling fans, use them. If not, an inexpensive box fan will do the trick. With fans, you get a wind chill effect that can be dramatic.

4) Unplug Unused Electronics

Did you know that many of your electronics and appliances use energy even when they are not in use. It is true and the biggest offenders are usually television sets. That standby feature which allows them to come on almost instantly, it costs money in the form of additional electrical usage.

The solution is to simply unplug your appliances and electronics if they are not used often. Is this a bit inconvenient, yes, but it can save you a few dollars each month. To make things a bit easier, electronics that are used more often can be placed on an inexpensive surge strip. Then you can put them back into action with a simple click.

5) Wash Your Clothes In Cold Water

Second to your air conditioner in electricity usage is your water heater. This should be obvious when you consider that its job is to keep roughly 50 gallons of water hot at all times.

Take some of the burden off of your water heater by washing your clothing in cold water. This will have little effect on cleanliness since detergents have greatly improved over the years. In addition, your colors will be less likely to fade, saving you money in replacement clothing.

If you want to save even more money, adjust the temperature of your water heater to 130 degrees. Most heaters are set from the factory at 140, but 130 is the sweet spot. It is the best compromise between water safety and energy efficiency.

6) Be Energy Wise With Dishes

Your dishwasher is probably energy star rated, but there are a few things that you can do to make washing the dishes more efficient.

Wash A Full Load

Washing a half load and a full load use the same amount of energy, so wait until the dishwasher is full to run a cycle. Doing this will reduce the amount of cycles that you run in a month, saving you money.

Use The Regular Cycle

Energy star dishwashers are slow and can take a few hours to get the job done. They do this to save energy. Resist the urge to use a one hour cycle because it will result in higher energy usage.

Turn Off Heated Dry

The heated drying cycle can help reduce water marks on your dishes and saves you time. It also uses a lot of energy. Skip the heated dry and either deal with a few spots or hand dry your dishes.

7) Replace Your HVAC Filter

Replacing your filter often is a great way to save money on apartment utilities. If you have a one inch filter, it will need to be replaced monthly. Larger filters may be able to last up to 3 months. Whatever the case, replace them regularly and have a particular date that you use to remember. The day you pay rent, for example.

A new filter will improve airflow through the system, keeping your air conditioner running at peak efficiency. Avoid the temptation to remove your filter completely in an attempt to further improve air flow. This will cause the coils to clog and your system performance will suffer.