by Michael Keating
12 Ways to Keep the Bills Low and the Spirits High
This time of year, when spending seems unavoidable as well as enjoyable, with the holidays and the trips, gifts for others and gifts picked up for yourself, we’d like to highlight a few ways you might be able to save on expenses at home. As the temperature drops, spikes in electric and gas bills appear, here’s our list of ideas on cutting apartment costs.
1. Distribute the expense People’s Gas, a major supplier of natural gas in the Chicagoland area, has residents’ best interests in mind. Instead of dramatic shifts in both outdoor temperatures and the cost of gas bills, users may opt for Budget Billing, which protects consumers by averaging out usage, calculated by last year’s figures and this year’s weather and price forecasts. Essentially, the total cost of the year is divided evenly and instead of gas bills going from negligible to monstrous just as the weather turns, they stay steady and reasonable throughout.
2. Seal those windows Perhaps one of the oldest tried and true methods at keeping the heat in and the cold out is to insulate windows, most especially if they are single pane. Rubber adhesive may be applied to the windows’ frame to stop any drafts. Insulation film can be purchased at any hardware store or online. Helpful instructions on installation can be found here, complete with photos and useful considerations. Renters also attest to the effectiveness of bubble wrap on windows–some say that the wrap up year round will keep warmth in for winter and heat out in summer. Unsure of how much of a draft is coming in? Instead of holding your hand by the windows, try setting a candle down–you’ll be able to see any breeze, if you can’t feel it. At the very least, lock your windows; it’ll close them more tightly and significantly reduce any draft.
3. Invest in another smart device If you’ve got central air and heat in your nest, consider the Nest Learning Thermostat. Currently on its third-generation, reviews place this as the best overall smart thermostat on the market, though older versions are received just as well and are less expensive. From their website: “With the Nest app, your thermostat lives on your wall and in your pocket. Once you connect your thermostat to Wi-Fi, you can control it from anywhere. Adjust the temperature from the app, and the Nest Thermostat adjusts quickly back at home.” With increased control, you’ll be able to heat your apartment when you’re on your way home and you’ll never have to worry about having left it accidentally on again! Additionally, Open all your vents, circulating the air and also keep the filters new and clean. While it may seem tempting to close the vents to the unused rooms, this actually can kick the heating system into working harder.
4. Focus the heat where you need it If your apartment does not have central air, consider centralizing the heat around you. Personal space heaters as well as an electric blanket or a heated mattress pad will keep you feeling tropical even if you’re surrounded by the tundra. Wool socks go a long way, no wonder they’re such a popular wintertime gift!
5. In consideration of radiator heat Place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls. In the winter, this will help heat the room instead of the wall. You may also “bleed” your heater, doing so will eliminate the pockets of air that prevent the heat from distributing evenly. This guy shows us how easily this can be done. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzgwlLpmXNQ
6. Get the direction of your fan right Lifehacker’s stellar advice: “When it’s hot, the fan should spin counter-clockwise to push the hot air up and out. When the weather turns cold, instead spin the fans clockwise to trap heat inside. You’ll often find a switch on your ceiling fan to choose a direction, so consult your fan’s manual to find out where it is.” Also, if you’ve got electric heat, try setting a fan in front of it. This will easily spread the warmth around.
7. Beware of “Energy Vampires” Other matters to be aware of: The device used to stream movies might be costing you more than going out to the theater. According to the New York Times, “[I]f you use your gaming console to stream movies, well, don’t. They can use 45 times more power than streaming consoles, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, mostly because they aren’t good at using only as much power as the task at hand requires.” Power strips are now made to be smart as well. Devices such as your television use power even when they are shut off–they’re “on” unless they are unplugged. A smart power strip will completely shut off any idol devices.
8. Check ComEd for rebates A rebate for up to $100 for a Nest Thermostat is available through ComEd. The omnipotent energy supplier has several rebates available for energy efficient appliances as well as energy saving home products, such as an air purifier and a smart power surge with instant savings at select retailers. Thinking about long-term savings? Consider swapping your lightbulbs to LED if you haven’t already. ComEd’s data on the matter is eye-opening. And Energy Star agrees that by changing your five most frequently used light sources to CFLs even, could save you up to $65 a year! It’s their top tip of ten for renters.
10. Fill your fridge You may not use all of the space within your refrigerator or freezer, which means every time you open it, the air outside enters and warms the empty spaces quickly. You can keep the icebox from unnecessary work by occupying that empty space. Some attest to using containers filled with water or even newspaper! The added advantage is that items are moved up front and you’ll be on top of your cooler’s inventory.
11. Small electronics make a difference From Apartmentguide.com’s blog: “New appliances are much more energy efficient and responsible than older appliances. You may not be able to upgrade major appliances in an apartment, but that doesn’t you don’t have any control. Some minor appliances whose newer models tend to be much more eco-conscious include computers, televisions, hair dryers, hair straighteners, toasters and blenders.” Sound advice.
12. Gather People are good sources of warmth, invite your cousin over for tea or have a neighbor over for conversation. Each person generates around as much heat as a 100 watt light bulb…
Hope these pointers are able to save you dollars and contribute to your cheer!