Small-Space Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency savings aren’t just for homeowners. Renters, even those living in a studio apartment, can do plenty to use less energy and lower their electric bills.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, which provide $1 worth of conventional lighting for just 27 cents, are available at a steep discount from local retailers through Tucson Electric Power’s energy-efficient lighting program.

“CFLs work equally well for apartments, condos or houses. Replacing an incandescent bulb with a CFL can save up to $65 in electricity during the bulb’s lifetime,” said Mike Baruch, TEP’s Residential Energy Efficiency Program Manager.

If you have a lamp that takes a regular light bulb, you may simply replace it with a CFL bulb. However, if you have a halogen lamp, it will not be compatible with CFL bulbs. Replacing halogen lamps with new CFL or LED lighting fixtures will use less energy and reduce the waste heat halogen bulbs produce.

Electrical appliances account for about 15 percent of a home’s energy usage, and that percentage often is higher in small apartments that can have lower heating and cooler costs than a larger house.

“No matter where you live, what you plug in and turn on is in your control. You can turn off appliances when they’re not in use, unplug devices that draw standby power and use a smart strip to control external devices such as printers and scanners,” Baruch said.

When you buy smaller appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. For larger appliances that belong to the landlord, such as refrigerators and water heaters, use the settings to maintain proper temperatures and dial back energy usage.

Is your refrigerator an ice cave? Is your hot water too hot to touch? Taking a moment to review and change your refrigerator and water heater settings can generate monthly savings without impacting your lifestyle.

Baruch recommends keeping refrigerators set in the mid-range of cold, but not coldest, and water heaters set no more than 120 degrees. Also remember to clean underneath and behind refrigerators regularly so their cooling components can “breathe” to operate at their most efficient.

During the summer, preparing meals outdoors is a great way to reduce the need to cool the inside of an apartment after cooking.

Raising or lowering the blinds or drawing the drapes can impact energy usage, particularly in smaller spaces. “Respect the power of the sun,” Baruch said. “Cover your windows to keep summertime solar radiation out, and open the coverings in the winter to allow the same solar radiation to provide heat during the colder months.”

Replacing air conditioner and heating system filters monthly also is important to maximize energy efficiency and lower operating costs. “Many times, landlords will do this for free or give you a supply of filters because it increases the useful life of the units.”

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