4 Tips for Prepping Your Apartment (and Wallet) for a Scorching Summer
Grab your portable fans and sunscreen. 2016 is on track to incinerate your idea of a typical summer.
Because of warming waters in the Pacific, we can all expect higher-than-normal temperatures and a coinciding increase in cooling costs. For those living in normally mild parts of the country like San Francisco, renters who normally rely on open windows and lazy fans to cool their homes are in for a steamy awakening.
With these record high temperatures, anyone shopping for rentals will face some tough decisions. Houses, condos, and apartments — all typically suited to colder climates — will turn into furnaces in the high heat. This will require you to get creative in how you keep cool without draining your bank account.
Summer Is Coming
While “Game of Thrones” fans are preparing for icy battles, anyone outside the seven kingdoms must prepare for some serious heat. For those living in homes with outdated heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, the cost of cooling just a few rooms will drive up your utility costs to dizzying heights.
This lack of energy efficiencies means you’ll have to craft clever ways to cool your home without forking over your entire paycheck. Whether it’s turning off lights or installing a water-efficient showerhead, it’s time to improvise in order to endure the summer months.
For example, the temperatures in the San Francisco Bay Area normally soared well into the 90s last summer. I wanted to maintain an energy-efficient home and save some cash, so I limited my use of electricity and air conditioning. Because I spent most of my time at the office, I started each day by turning off the AC and unplugging every appliance before I left the house. I charged energy-suckers like my phone and laptop only while I was at the office, and when I came home, I kept the AC to a minimum, selectively plugging in only what I needed to get through the night.
Stopping the Summer Swelter
If you’re like most Millennials — cash-strapped and environmentally conscious — staying cool without blowing your savings on a new AC unit is essential. Here are a few tips I’ve found to help keep you cool for the summer:
1. Install lightbulbs that would make Edison proud.
Compact fluorescent lights last 10 times longer than conventional lightbulbs, making them a more energy-efficient option that requires infrequent replacements. CFL lightbulbs are also affordable and easy to find in hardware stores and pharmacies. Consider installing some CFL lightbulbs to save money and energy — rather than wasting them on lazy, energy-sucking incandescent bulbs.
2. Opt for less mainstream lighting.
Keeping the lights on during the daytime is a huge waste of energy. Take a cue from hipsters and throw it back to the good old days of natural light. I have always loved long, sunny summer days that last well into the night and have opted to open my window shades for bright (and free) lighting. You can also paint your apartment’s interiors with lighter colors such as pastels, soft creams, or whites to make your living space even brighter.
3. Give your oven a summer vacation.
When your AC already works overtime to cool your home, give it a break and put a lock on your oven door. Rather than baking your food, take advantage of the summertime vibes and hit the outdoor grill.
This will keep your apartment cool and reduce the need for AC. Even better, dinnertime will turn into a nightly outdoor party for you and your friends.
4. Cut off the energy vampires hiding in your home.
While it’s nice to come home with the television primed and ready for some binge-watching, the electronics we’ve come to know, love, and trust are gobbling up electricity even when they’re off. Desktop computers, gaming consoles, televisions, and any other remote operated devices slowly sip electricity to ensure they’re ready to play when you are.
Consider unplugging your devices when not in use to save up to 10 percent on your utility bill. And while you’re unplugging those vampire devices, double-check that those same appliances aren’t generating too much heat and causing your AC to pump more cool air to compensate.
Cold showers, breezy clothes, underground caves — the options for inexpensive cooling are truly limitless. Just be sure to get your landlord’s approval before installing an ice-filled kiddie pool in your living room.
David Adams is the founder of HomeSuite, an online marketplace for temporary furnished housing that uses technology, data, and customer service to provide the best possible experience for tenants and landlords. Connect with David on Twitter.
While the prices are still higher, LED lighting is more efficient and should last even longer than CF. Currently my utility has a rebate program that makes the costs nearly identical.
This is an old bug-a-boo. If the equipment was made in the last 5 years, and have a 'energy star' rating, the equipment will use very little power at standby. If you have a concern, buy a kill-a-watt meter, and see how much current the device draws. My current computer and large screen TV use less than 2 watts at standby. The new DVR does draw about 6 watts, but still no where near 10%.
Of course you money may vary….
Agree. I think the price is still the major barrier to the popularity of LED.
For my current 'cool room' I have a two inch thich piece of sheet styrofoam (from the building supply store) mostly sealing the space behind the curtain. Takes the 'R' value of the window from about two to about twelve. As windows let the most heat in, this keeps the room cooler. The drawback is that it also stops most of the light comming in, but that would not be an issue most of the time in a bedroom.