This summer’s been brutal. Heatwaves, humidity, health issues galore, and summer isn’t even done with us yet. But perhaps the most painful of all, for many of us, is the skyrocketing electricity bills. When your air conditioners are running 24/7 and you’re spending all your time on electronics that need to be charged, the monthly bill is going to be a whopper. What are the ways we can save on apartment electric bills this summer, and try to not just protect our wallets but also the environment?
In this post, we look at the energy vampires in our apartment and what we can do about them, the different ways we can naturally cool down our apartment, and then, finally, how we can reduce energy consumption after minimizing our energy requirements.
- Why is my apartment using so much electricity?
- How to find which appliance is using too much electricity?
- Top Tips to Save on Apartment Electric Bills
- How to keep your apartment cool in the summer?
- Thoughtful Consumption
Why is my apartment using so much electricity?
We need to cool down our apartment, we need to power all our appliances and devices, and we need to see at night. We know this is a lot of power devices (thank you, modern life), but why on earth is the electricity bill so high? Well, that’s usually due to one of four main reasons:
1 // Age and Condition of Your Electrical Appliances
Inefficient appliances can suck up a lot of energy. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy a new, efficient appliance. There are measures you can take to remedy this situation, and we will get into that later in this post.
2 // Poor Insulation
Air-sealing your doors and windows, and properly weatherstripping your doors, will go a long way in increasing the insulation of your apartment space. Sealing makes the space reasonably air-tight, prevents entry or leakage of hot air from outside the space, and thus increases the energy efficiency of your HVAC systems.
3 // Energy Usage and Waste
So, there’s this thing called vampire energy. It’s when appliances and devices consume energy when not in use. It’s also called phantom energy, but there’s no need to be scared of it. It does need to be slayed, though, if you want to reduce your electric bill.
4 // Utility Rate Hikes
If your energy provider has increased the rates (due to supply chain issues, war, resource depletion, pick one), there are a couple of things you can do: contact them to see if they will give you a lower rate for being a loyal customer. Ask if they offer off-peak rates, which is the night rate for electricity. If they refuse to budge, you could always do a market survey and switch over to a less expensive company.
How to find which appliance is using too much electricity?
Generally, the biggest energy users are washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers. These three appliances typically account for 14% of an energy bill, because heating up water – the common factor in all these appliances – takes up a lot of energy. But the story isn’t that simple. How often and for how long you use each appliance, the condition of the appliance, combined with the prevailing electricity rate at the time, will determine the final electricity bill.
You can get a good idea of the energy usage of various appliances and devices from the Energy Vampire Calculator from Duke Energy. Just enter all the items you have and use at home, and the calculator will give you a rough estimate of the electricity wastage your home is dealing with.
All well and good, but if we want to reduce the bill, then how do we figure out which appliance of ours is consuming the most energy? Is there a way to measure and monitor the energy usage of individual appliances?
Power consumption monitoring device
An electricity usage monitor tells you how many kWh a device or appliance is drawing. It does this by being between the appliance and the outlet, and measuring the amount of energy that the appliance draws from the outlet (through the monitor).
Free electricity usage monitor
Is it possible to find out the power consumption of individual devices/appliances for free? Well, yes – either using energy-tracking apps or the old-school way of calculating power consumption by hand. You could also borrow a plug-in monitor from your energy company. Many of them have programs where they help you measure the energy consumption per appliance, and advise you regarding the best course of action to reduce the consumption as much as possible.
Best electricity usage monitor
Which electricity usage monitor should you opt for? Well, here are some of the best options:
1 // P3 Kill A Watt EZ
This monitors the device’s consumption of power (kWh), as well as an estimate of daily, weekly, monthly and annual consumption. Ideal for appliances and devices that use 110-120 volts. It’s accurate within 0.2%.
2 // Kill A Watt Control
This is next-level: The Kill A Watt Control can be programmed to turn off or on appliances/devices to adhere to your pre-set electricity budget.
3 // Belkin WeMo Insight Smart Plug [for Smart Homes]
This Smart Plug uses your Wi-Fi network to turn a device on and off remotely. It tells you how much power your device is using, and what it’s costing you. Works with Alexa and Google Assistant.
4 // ConnectSense Smart Outlet 2 [for Smart Homes]
This Smart Outlet can be used to monitor and control small home appliances such as coffee makers, lamps, and TVs. Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice commands.
Whole-house Electricity Monitoring
These monitoring tools work through sensors fitted in the junction box. The sensors gather data from the meters and help you to streamline the energy consumption of your entire household. Read more about them to see if they will suit your circumstances (and they’re quite expensive!). This device may need an electrician to install it in, but here are two of the best electricity monitors in the market:
1 // Sense Energy Monitor with Solar Tracking | Price: $349 | Review
2 // Eyedro Business Electricity Monitor | Price: $319 | Review
Top Tips to Save on Apartment Electric Bills
Regular maintenance of your appliances and devices, coupled with optimal usage, can help you save a ton on your electric bills. Here are the top tips you should keep in mind:
1 // Air Conditioner Maintenance
Do make sure your air conditioning system is performing at an optimal level. Conduct regular maintenance, especially prior to the summer season. Clean the entire system, including the vents, filters, ducts etc. If you are in the market for a new AC, consider buying an eco-friendly air conditioner. Plus, there are things you can do to reduce the AC bill:
How to Reduce AC Bill in Summer
1 // Choose the right temperature
Do not set the AC at the minimum possible temperature. Use the 20-degree rule (always keep your AC unit at no more than 20 degrees lower than the outside temperature). Energy Star recommends keeping your air conditioner at 78℉ when you’re home in the summertime, 82℉ when you’re asleep, and 85℉ (or better yet power off) when you’re not at home.
2 // Turn off the power button when not in use
We all tend to just turn off the AC using the remote control, but the AC is an energy vampire! Turn off the main power switch when you intend to switch off the AC. The effect will be seen in your bill.
3 // Use Energy Saver Mode and Timer Liberally
Use these helpful features to minimize use of the AC. Not every day will be crazy hot, and not mornings will be cooler than afternoons and evenings. Be prudent in how you set the air conditioner timer, and remember that efficient use makes a difference in your electric bill!
4 // Make sure the space is well-insulated
Don’t let any hot air from the outside enter the room. The room will cool faster. Don’t keep the door open thinking the AC in this room can also cool the next room. ACs are sized for the space they’re in, and if the load on them is much more than planned for, they will draw more power from the socket. Which means, yes, higher bills.
2 // Use Ceiling Fans
Increase air circulating with the help of ceiling fans. Being in a room with no air movement is vastly different from being in a room with a ceiling fan blowing a gentle breeze down at you. It also helps keep the room cooler, thereby reducing the need for the AC to work harder.
3 // Ensure Weatherstripping of Doors and Windows
Is warm air leaking into your apartment from the outside? This might be happening through air leaks in your doors and windows. Run your finger along the frame of the door or window, and if you feel air coming in, then you will need to weatherstrip that spot. Head to a hardware store for materials.
4 // Account for Cooking Temperatures
Use heat-producing kitchen appliances, such as your oven, during the coolest parts of the day, if possible. This ensures that the AC isn’t doing extra work (i.e. using up more energy) during the hot parts of the day to counter the heat produced by the oven.
Keep your refrigerator at 38°F and the freezer at 5°F. These are ideal temperatures for summer conditions to keep your food well preserved.
5 // Use Natural Light & Heat
Take advantage of the warm light that the summer sun provides during the daytime. Use energy-efficient LED lights for nighttime, so that you aren’t wasting any energy there.
6 // Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
Apparently you can reduce your bills by up to 50% with appliances that are energy-efficient. Inefficient appliances tend to produce a lot of heat, and waste energy that – again – will have to be paid for by you. If your appliance is beyond repair, then opt for refurbished energy-efficient appliances so you can save money in many ways.
7 // Save Energy in Water Usage
Take a 2 minute shower, rather than a long one. If you don’t need to heat the water in summertime (whether for washing at the sink or for baths and showers), then make sure you turn off the water heater, if possible.
8 // Save While Washing & Drying Clothes
Use cold water in your washing machine for summer laundry cycles. Like we mentioned before, heating water takes up a lot of energy. And, when it comes to drying, try to dry your clothes naturally in the sun on a clothesline, instead of using a power-hungry dryer.
How to keep your apartment cool in the summer?
Messing around with electricity consumption is just one part of the solution to lower bills. But we all know that not using electricity in the first place is the most eco-friendly option. Of course, it isn’t possible to live without electricity, but during summer, the main reason for electricity consumption is to cool your apartment down. There are many different things you can do to lower the temperature in your apartment this summer without using energy (or, well, while using less energy!). Imagine there’s a power cut or a blackout one hot summer afternoon. You could use these tips to keep your apartment cool:
1 // Increase Ventilation
Cross-ventilation is wonderful. Open your windows and doors, and allow for the air circulation to not only clean out your indoor air, but also cool down the indoor temperature. On a breezy day, cross-ventilation can lower the inside temperature by a few degrees. Add in a battery-operated fan for windless days, and you’re all set to weather the heatwave.
2 // Reduce Humidity
Did you know that there are indoor plants that can reduce humidity? Well, now you know. Add these plants to your apartment to not only reduce the mugginess, but to also make it look prettier. Invest in a dehumidifier if necessary, but you can also use an aromatic diffuser with a hint of peppermint essential oil to cool the space.
3 // Darken the Space
Excess light always makes it hotter. Work on making your space as dark as possible, to keep out as much heat as you can. Use yellow lamps instead of white. Turn off as many lights as you can. Use blackout curtains to keep the light out on particularly sunny days. All of these measures will help reduce the inside temperature and therefore the urge to turn on the AC.
4 // Cool Your Body
Wear light-colored linen clothing, and make sure you stay hydrated. Eat light, cooling foods (such as cucumber salads, citrus juices, etc), listen to calming music, and sleep on light, breathable cotton sheets. Take cool showers and use light, nice-smelling shower gels to add to your happy mood.
Tech Tip: Invest in Solar Panels
Solar panels for residential purposes are ideal for summer power demands. If you are in an apartment complex, it is, of course, not feasible (unless you can convince all the other apartment residents to come onboard – because solar panels for an apartment building can be a very cost-effective solution). Find out if this is an option at all for you, and if it is, that’s awesome! You’d become independent of the grid, and can also possibly contribute to the grid via a smart meter.
There’s no big secret when it comes to reducing your electric bill. During hot days, the key is to keep the space as cool as possible naturally. And then, reduce the amount of energy being consumed by all the appliances.
Do not waste energy. Remember to turn off fans, lights and ACs when you leave a room; don’t let all your appliances and devices run all day, in all the rooms. What an utter waste that would be!
The solution to lower energy bills is a combination of minimizing the amount of energy consumed and maximizing the efficiency of your appliances. With some thought and planning, you can reduce the electric bill in your apartment – and keep it low through the energy crisis that’s coming up.
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