Energy costs and growing concerns about the environment are prompting many homeowners to try to reduce the amount of energy and water they use. Cutting down on your energy use can also help you save money, whether you pay your utility bills directly or through your rent or condominium fees. If you live in an apartment or condo, the following tips can help you save energy and water, and make your home more comfortable:
• Seal any cracks or holes in your walls, ceiling, floors, windows and doors to keep drafts out, and keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
• Take advantage of natural heat from the sun by opening your curtains and blinds on sunny winter days, and closing them at night to keep the heat inside. Watch for any water that may form on the windows and wipe it up to prevent damage and mold growth. In the summer, keep your curtains and blinds closed during the day. If security isn't an issue, try opening windows in the evening and early morning to let the cool air in, and then closing them during the day to keep the heat out.
• Make sure the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms are clean, dust-free and working efficiently. Keep your refrigerator working efficiently by cleaning the evaporator coils once a year and ensuring the door firmly seals shut.
• Fix leaky faucets and toilets, and consider installing low-flow showerheads and low-flush toilets.
• Use fluorescent tubes or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in your home. CFLs are 75 to 80 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Make sure you dispose of them properly as they contain small amounts of mercury that can be harmful to the environment.
• If you're purchasing appliances or electronic equipment, check the EnerGuide label on large appliances or the ENERGY STAR® ratings for electronics, home office products and small appliances. If you're purchasing a new washer, consider a front-loading model. Front-loading washers use up to 40 per cent less water and 60 per cent less energy than top-loading machines.
• If you're buying an air conditioner, look for a model with an energy efficiency rating (EER) of at least 11 and an ENERGY STAR® symbol on the label. Clean the filters every month and set your thermostat higher or off when you're not home.
• Turn off lights, appliances and electrical equipment when you're not using them. Take the stairs if you live near the ground floor. Try to run only full loads when washing clothes or using the dishwasher.
• Remember: always consult with your building manager or landlord before undertaking any maintenance, repairs or improvements to your unit. For major repairs, you may also want to hire a contractor or other qualified professional.
Published with permission from RISMedia.