You may not think you have much of a say in the heating and air conditioning systems if you don’t own your home. However, renters do have ways to make a difference in their heating and air bills beyond shutting off the system. If you rent, you’ll want to keep reading.
One of the first things you can and should do is ask lots of questions before signing a rental agreement. Ask what the average energy bill for the previous renter looks like. Ask what type of system is in place for heating and air and how often it is maintained. Find out who will be responsible for changing the filters. You may not own the system or make decisions about air conditioning maintenance but you’ll certainly be responsible for paying part or all of the costs so you have a right to know what you’re getting into before you sign.
Look past the surface.
Don’t be taken in by a nice floor plan or shiny hardwood floors. Look beyond the surface of a space for rent. Take a hard look at the windows and doors. Look at the weather stripping and feel for drafts. Drafty doors and windows won’t just make you feel uncomfortable; they’ll cost you money on your energy bill. Your energy bill money will flow right through those cracks.
Set the thermostat.
If you’re already in a lease or rental agreement, you can still have an impact on your unit’s energy usage and costs. The thermostat is still well within your control. Set it to a more budget-friendly setting while you aren’t at home. Leave yourself a note on the door so you don’t forget. There’s no point in heating and cooling an empty condo or apartment!
Make some changes.
Talk to your landlord about making some energy efficient changes. Ask if he is willing to offer credit if you have a programmable thermostat installed, if you replace and repair the weather stripping or make any other improvements to the property. He will have a more attractive property to market when you leave so it might be worth a little negotiation.
One word of serious caution here – never make changes like these without permission. You could liable for damages and repairs. Get your agreement in writing and always adhere to local building codes.
Take your responsibilities as a renter seriously and look for energy efficient ways to save money. It’s that much more you can put towards owing your own home one day.