Electricity powers our everyday lives, to the point where most of us probably couldn’t live for days without it. But every month, when the electric bill lands on your doorstep or inbox, you might panic about pushing your budget.
As a renter, you’re already balancing monthly rent, potential fees like parking, and routine living costs. Soaring electric bills can add unnecessary strain to your finances. Fortunately, with a little savvy and some smart adjustments, you can noticeably cut down your electric bills. Here are some steps tailored specifically for renters, to help you keep those kilowatts in check and save some money.
Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
Switch to LED or CFL bulbs. They might come with a slightly higher upfront cost than traditional incandescent bulbs, but their longevity and efficiency make them a smarter investment. An average incandescent bulb may last about 1,000 hours, a CFL can last up to 10,000 hours, and an LED bulb can shine brightly for over 25,000 hours. This means fewer replacements and less hassle for you.
LED and CFL also consume about 75% less power. For example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb can be replaced by a 14-watt CFL or an 8-watt LED bulb, both offering similar brightness but at a fraction of the power consumption.
Unplug Unused Electronics to Avoid Phantom Loads
Phantom loads is the electricity consumed by electronic devices even when they are turned off or in standby mode. This includes appliances, chargers, entertainment systems, and other electronics that continue to draw power when they are switched off but still plugged into an outlet.
This is because many modern electronic devices and appliances never truly shut off entirely. Instead, they go into a “standby” state, allowing them to quickly power up or respond to a remote control. This continuous power draw contributes to unnecessary energy consumption, resulting in higher electricity bills.
One of the best ways to combat phantom loads is to unplug devices when they’re not in use or use power strips, which can be turned off, cutting power to multiple devices at once. There are also smart power strips that cut power when devices are not in use.
Regularly Service Your Air Conditioner
The reason why you should service your air conditioner once every six months is because an unfiltered air conditioner or an air conditioner with a dirty filter can consume more power.
- Restricted Airflow: Filters in air conditioners are designed to trap dust, pollen, and other airborne particles. Over time, these particles accumulate on the filter, restricting the airflow. When the airflow is obstructed, the air conditioner has to work harder to circulate the same amount of air, leading to higher energy consumption.
- Reduced Efficiency: When the airflow is limited due to a clogged filter, the efficiency of the heat exchange process in the AC unit is compromised. This means the air conditioner may take longer to cool a room, again leading to longer running times and higher energy use.
- Short Cycling: A dirty filter can cause an air conditioner to “short cycle,” meaning it turns on and off more frequently than necessary. This not only consumes more energy but can also lead to reduced lifespan of the unit.
Regularly replacing or cleaning the air conditioner filter is a simple maintenance task that can help ensure it operates efficiently, reducing energy consumption and prolonging its lifespan.
Limit High-Energy Appliances
Appliances are not created equal and some use more energy than others. The amount of energy an appliance consumes depends on its power rating and how long it operates. Here’s a breakdown of common household appliances and their typical energy consumption:
- Water Heaters: Heating water for showers, washing dishes, and laundry can consume a significant amount of energy, especially if the water heater is outdated or inefficient.
- Refrigerators and Freezers: These appliances run 24/7 and can account for a substantial part of a household’s energy bill, especially older models that are less energy-efficient.
- Clothes Dryers: Dryers, especially electric ones, consume a lot of energy. In contrast, washing machines are typically less power-hungry than their drying counterparts.
- Dishwashers: While they use less energy than hand-washing dishes, dishwashers can still account for a noticeable chunk of energy use, especially if they’re used daily.
- Computers and Televisions: These devices can consume a surprising amount of energy, especially if they’re left on for extended periods. Larger screens generally use more energy than smaller ones.
To determine which appliances are using the most energy in your home, you can look at their wattage (usually printed on the device or in the manual) and consider how long they’re typically in use. For a more detailed analysis, there are energy monitors available that can measure the energy use of individual appliances. Investing in energy-efficient appliances or reducing the operation time of high-consumption devices can lead to substantial savings on energy bills.
Use Your Appliances Strategically
To expand on the last section, even when you use your high-energy appliances, you can make full use of their power every time.
- Wash your clothes with cold water. Around 90% of the energy used by washing machines goes to heating the water.
- Clean the lint filter on your dryer before every cycle. Use the auto-dry setting instead of the timer to avoid over-drying.
- A full fridge retains the cold better than an empty one. But avoid overstuffing it.
These small changes can add up and nurture good habits to be more sustainable. You can also perform those chores in alternative ways such as air-drying clothes when possible, and batch-cook meals to use the oven less frequently. Also consider shorter showers and turning the water heater down slightly for more savings.
If you are dedicated to cutting down on your electricity consumption, whether it’s for your bills or as your part to be more eco-friendly, it is possible to see a big difference. Lifestyle changes and optimising every use of your appliances can make your life more efficient.
Your next step might even be a switch to solar which you can achieve by enquiring your landlord or building management about solar integration. Or inspiring your local government to invest and adopt it for the good of the community.
At the end of the day, trimming your electric bills doesn’t always require significant investments or drastic changes in behaviour. It’s the small, consistent actions that can lead to substantial long-term savings. By incorporating these steps, you can efficiently navigate your way to a greener lifestyle and a fuller wallet.