Make Your Apartment Energy-Efficient This Summer

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Compact fluorescent light bulb with a dollar bill

Written By: The Connor Group

Now that it’s finally summer, you might be tempted to stay indoors in your chilled apartment rather than brave the sweltering heat outdoors. According to NASA, nine of the ten warmest years in NASA’s global temperature records have all occurred since 2000, and just this past year, 2015 ranked as the warmest year on record.

Everyone can do their part to make their home a little more energy-efficient this summer, and this includes apartment renters. In fact, with 37% of American households renting their homes, it’s important not to underestimate the environmental impact that your humble studio apartment has on the rest of the planet.

There are some compelling fiscal reasons to cut back on your home’s energy consumption, too. With warmer than average temperatures expected all across the United States, your wallet will thank you for not blasting the air conditioning all summer. From air-drying your dishes to rotating the ceiling fans counterclockwise, even the littlest step goes a long way in cooling down your apartment for cheaper!

Run your dishwasher efficiently

During the summer months, any source of heating in a small apartment can feel like you’re operating a heavy-duty space heater. When you’re running the dishwasher, select air-dry if possible. This will reduce your energy bill by cutting out excess heating.

You can also cut down on your water bill by running a full load in the dishwasher. Before you put the dirty dishes in the sink, scrape the dishes off instead of rinsing them. Rinsing the dishes before loading them into the dishwasher uses a lot of unnecessary water and energy, when most dishwashers today can do the job.

Stay on top of your air conditioner maintenance

Before the summer heat hits, make sure that your air conditioner unit is running smoothly! Test your A/C unit sooner rather than later. If the air conditioning is not blowing out cool air or if it is making any concerning noises, ask apartment maintenance to look at it.

To lower your utilities bill, you should also avoid turning the A/C off completely when you’re out. During the day, slightly increase the temperature so your unit runs just a few times a day, but keeps the apartment relatively much cooler when you get home. Unsurprisingly, this is more energy efficient than coming home to a sauna and then blasting the A/C for hours at a time!

Rotate your ceiling fans counterclockwise

We all know that air conditioning units can rack up the electricity bill quite a bit, and it is not exactly the greenest cooling option for our planet. As an alternative, learn how to use your ceiling fan to your advantage. A piece by the New York Times shows that on average, a window A/C unit uses 1.2 kilowatts and costs about 14¢/hour. In comparison, a ceiling fan only uses 30 watts and costs 1¢/hour!

To best cool down your apartment, your ceiling fans should be rotating counterclockwise. Since warm air rises, counterclockwise blades churn the warm air into a cool downdraft, making your room feel up to 8 degrees cooler. (Likewise, you’ll want to run your fans clockwise during the winter. Clockwise blades pull in a cool updraft and redistribute warm air throughout the room.)

To change the rotational direction, first turn off your ceiling fan, then locate a switch on the ceiling fan’s motor housing. Your fan’s switch may be located inside the switch cup.  Turn your ceiling fan back on; you should immediately be able to feel a cool draft coming from the fan.

Tighten insulation around windows and doors

You may have heard this one before: What’s the use of running your air conditioner or ceiling fan, if poor insulation just lets the cool air escape all the time? You can easily block drafts by caulking gaps around your windows and doors or installing new weather stripping. You may want to call the maintenance crew to take care of this for you.

The summer sun can also unfortunately turn your apartment into an oven. Hang up heat-resistant drapes to prevent heat from coming in through your windows. For example, closed-weave drapes (typically heavy fabrics, like cotton or velvet) insulate better than open-weave drapes; the higher the thread-count, the better. During the summer, white drapes also do the best job of reflecting heat out.

Cool down laundry day

Make your appliances work for your wallet. Using hot water in the washing machine is often unnecessary, and depending on the fabric, causes more wear on your clothing. The next time you go shopping for detergents, pick one that is optimized for cold water cycles.

According to the EPA, when you run a hot water cycle on your washing machine, about 90% of the energy expended goes to just heating that water. Your washing machine only needs 10% of that electricity to power the washer motor!

If you hate pulling warm laundry out of the dryer on a hot summer’s day, you can also avoid that ordeal by air-drying some of your clothes. It may sound old-fashioned, but air-drying can lengthen the life of some fabrics, and keeps you cooler on laundry day. When you do have to use the drying machine, be sure you’re always cleaning the lint trap before every load, and reduce drying times for smaller loads.

The Connor Group, which owns and operates luxury apartment communities while specializing in smart growth, contributed content to this article.