How Renters Can Save Energy – Buy a house

OKOK just kidding, but there are a lot of things renters can do:

Energy Conservation and Saving money on your next electricity bill

Reduce your electricity consumption with these energy conservation tips

v1.2, Dec. 12, 2007, (v1.0 was Jan. 1, 2003) by Robert Levitt

For other energy conservation ideas you can also visit Every Kilowatt Counts, and

  1. Turn off lights when not in use. Use “task lighting” rather than lighting the whole room unnecessarily for close work.
  2. Replace incandescent lamps, (ie. regular light bulbs) with compact fluorescent lights. While more expensive to purchase, (prices continue to drop and they are now under $2.50 each in packages of 2 to 6 lamps.) they pay for themselves with time, taking 1/4 of the power and having a life of 7 to 10 times a long. They also generate much less heat which is a big bonus during the summer. You will get full life expectancy out of these lamps in open fixtures where the air can circulate and you will get a shorter life in a fully enclosed light fixture due to somewhat higher temperatures lowering the life of the internal electronic circuitry.

    NOTE: do NOT use fluorescent lamps where it can get wet or in places of very high humidity like bathrooms because you do not want moisture getting into the electronics. Also do not mix types of bulbs in one light fixture, that is if you have a lamp that has 2 or more bulbs close together do not use a CFL while others are incandescent because the heat from the older hot bulbs will dramatically shorten the life of the CFL to a fraction of its rated life.

  3. If you are going to use incandescent lamps, (ie. regular light bulbs,) use them with a light dimmer, so that when you don’t need as much light you can dim the lights and use less power.

    NOTE: Do NOT use a light dimmer on fluorescent or compact fluorescent lamps (CFL’s). unless they are clearly marked that they are designed to be used with dimmers.

  4. Dust your lamps and light fixtures with the power off. Even a thin layer of dust reduced light levels.
  5. Unless absolutely necessary, use a fan rather than an air conditioner during the summer. Of course if you have asthma or other respiratory problems, a heart condition, are a senior, or on many kinds of medication that make you more vulnerable to heatstroke your health is most important and you should continue to use your air conditioner. But you can always decide to set the temperature a bit higher. If you are going to use an air conditioner, get one with a built in timer so you aren’t wasting energy cooling your home when nobody is there.
  6. Portable and baseboard electric heaters are real power hogs and if improperly used can be a fire hazard (see the Apartment Safety page). Setting the temperature a couple of degrees lower during the winter can save you a lot of money and you can remain confortable if you wear thicker clothing or an extra layer like a sweater. A ceiling fan is also useful and will force the hotter air that rises to ceiling downards to where you are.
  7. Use curtains and shades on your windows, to keep the heat in during the winter.
  8. Use window shades to reduce or block sunlight and heat during the summer, particularly if you have windows that receive direct sunlight.
  9. Computers and particularly laser printers can really run up your power bills. Keep your printer turned off using the switch on the printer, when not in use. Some printers take as much power as 660 watts, the same as keeping a small microwave oven cooking continuously! We all have a tendancy to keep the computer on if we are not using it because we don’t want to wait a couple of minutes to boot up again, but if you are going to be away from the computer for a hour turn it off as you will save more power in that hour than that used to power one 14 watt compact fluorescent lamp for 24 hours.
  10. While there are many small items you will not want to ever turn off such as clocks or perhaps your telephone answering machine, they are costing you too. A 7 watt clock or answering machine, adds up to 0.168 kWh per day. But there are many items which never turn off, they stay in standby mode eating up power. Examples are TV’s, Video Cassette recorders, DVD players and Cable TV converters, though you might decide you want to keep your VCR or DVE player plugged in all the time if you don’t want to reset their clocks. Each of these items eat up power, but by putting them on a power bar with a power switch (with prices starting at $5 each) you can often save in excess of 0.6 kWh per day (20 kwh/month). NOTE: If you have pay-TV services, particularly pay-per-view, you will want to keep your cable television converter powered up at all times, otherwise the cable company’s system may have to reset you as a pay-user each time you turn the power back on to the converter,
  11. Have a hairdrier? Use it sparingly and don’t use the maximum heat setting, not only will you save energy, but your scalp will thank you!
  12. Thaw, or partially thaw, frozen foods in the refrigerator before cooking.
  13. Small appliances use less power than larger ones. Save money by using a microwave oven rather than a regular electric oven/stove. Use an electric kettle rather than a stovetop one. If you are buying a toaster, don’t buy an extra long slot one, if you aren’t going to use the extra long slots, because the extra energy / heat is just going to be wasted going up the open space. Cooking with a microwave oven typically uses less than half the energy of an electric stove/oven because it wastes less heat something to think about on a sweltering hot summer day. All that heat being given off of the stove is wasted energy. Of course there is a possible big downside to this, read: Microwave Ovens destroy food nutrients, Globe and Mail newspaper October 17, 2003. On the other hand, over cooking foods using regular ovens can also destroy nutrients.
  14. When cooking do not open the door if it is possible to examine the food by looking through the window. You can turn off the heat a couple of minutes before the food is ready for stove-top cooking and several minutes in the oven to save money. Also remember to match the size of any pots or skillets you use on electric stove elements.
  15. While I as a tenant have no control over what type of refridgerator the landlord supplies me with, only that it be a working one, when my 1985 “Energy Saver” was replaced (after breaking down in 2003) with a modern Energy Saver, it immediately saved me almost 1 kWh per day. Of course it will cost me in other ways since the landlord will include the cost of the new fridge in his costs when applying for any rent increase. But if there needs to be a replacement anyways, it might as well be a modern “Energy Saver” appliance.
  16. Refridgerators: Keep the refridgerator section at between 2C and 5C (36 to 42° F,) and the freezer at -18C (0° F). These temperatures help ensure food safety, but lowering the temperatures further only wastes power. Don’t overcrowd the fridge or freezer, freezers should not be more than 2/3’s full. It is important that the refrigerator door closes tightly and forms a tight seal, otherwise, warm air will get in and the unit will have to work harder to keep things cool, costing more energy. If you can put a piece of paper between the door and the gasket and can easily pull the paper out when the door is closed, the gasket is probably worn out and should be replaced. Keep your fridge and the seal around the fridge door clean. Also, don’t spend time and waste electricity by “grazing” in front of the refridgerator with the door open to browse through its contents.
  17. Run clothes washers when full. The same applies to dishwashers, but it is even better not to use them at all and to wash your dishes, pot and pans and cutlery by hand.
  18. Do at least two electricity audits of your home, one for the coldest month and one for the hottest. How much power are you using and where can you save? Remember: some of these items though turned on may not be on or fully on during their use but may cycle on an off such as Air Conditioners, etc. and their power usage is less in reality, than if you assume they are fully powered at all times.


More tomorrow.


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