Last Updated on October 24, 2021 by Mary Pressler
Apartment Energy Savings in Texas
Energy savings require a special approach if you rent an apartment in Texas. Since the property is owned by someone else, most people don’t care about making improvements. However, you can focus on energy efficiency tips that instantly lower your electric bill in your apartment.
Another effective strategy is to prepay for electricity to have better control over energy expenses. In Texas, a monthly electric bill is optional, and prepaid electricity is comparable to using cash – keeping within your budget is easier.
Texas Apartment electricity rates can be reduced with the combination of low-cost energy efficiency measures, pay-as-you-go electric and energy conservation habits. The accumulated savings during the entire term of a rent contract can be significant.
Apartment Energy Efficiency Tips to Reduce Your Electricity Cost
To save electricity as a renter, focus on energy efficiency measures that are affordable and easy to install. If an efficiency upgrade has a payback period shorter than the lease term, it is worth trying.
LED lighting is recommended for two reasons: they are the longest lasting light bulbs, and you can take your LED bulbs with you when moving to another apartment. Just make sure you store the original light bulbs and reinstall them when your contract ends, so you don’t get charged additional fees.
Another idea is sealing air leaks in walls, windows and doors, especially in Texas. Air leaks cause summer heat gain and winter heat loss, increasing both air conditioning and heating expenses. The US Department of Energy recommends caulking for leaks that affect fixed building elements, and weatherstripping for moving elements like doors and windows. Just make sure you discuss this with the landlord before proceeding; it is a minor modification that does not affect appearance, but make sure the apartment owner agrees.
Depending on the type of HVAC equipment in an apartment, a smart thermostat such as an Nest, can also be a cost-effective option. In many cases, you can simply remove the conventional thermostat and use the same wiring. Keep in mind that older HVAC systems may be incompatible, or may require additional wiring. Just like with LED lighting, you can take a smart thermostat with you when moving to another apartment, but make sure the previous one is rewired correctly.
Choosing an Energy Efficient Apartment will Lower Your Electric Bill
Air conditioners normally have the highest running cost among electrical appliances in homes, apartments and commercial buildings. Since air conditioner upgrades are expensive, a good recommendation is looking for apartments that already have efficient units installed. If you currently rent an apartment with inefficient HVAC equipment, consider moving to a place with better equipment once your lease ends.
Before signing your apartment lease, check the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of air conditioners, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of space heaters, and the Energy Factor (EF) of water heaters. All these metrics are similar to the gas mileage value of a car, where a larger number means less expenses:
- In air conditioners, SEER 20 can be considered high, and the best products available exceed SEER 30.
- Old and inefficient furnaces often have an AFUE below 70%, while modern and efficient units exceed 95%.
- Conventional water heaters with a storage tank often have an EF below 0.60. However, tankless gas heaters normally exceed 0.80, while heat pumps go above 2.0 EF.
In new apartments, you may find that the air conditioner and space heater are replaced with a heat pump that accomplishes both roles. The SEER value also applies for heat pumps in cooling mode, and their heating efficiency is described by the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor or HSPF. An HSPF value above 8 can be considered good, and the best heat pumps go above 10.
Use Prepaid Electricity in your Apartment for a Cheaper Light Bill
Prepaid electricity by itself does not reduce power bills, but it often leads to energy saving habits. Since you pay ahead of time and have daily texts that tell you the remaining balance, electricity spending is usage easier to track. For example, if your kWh usage higher than normal in a particular day, finding the cause is much easier. On the other hand, losing track of spending is easy when you have a normal electric bill in Texas.
Prepaid energy is strongly recommended if you want to keep monthly power bills below a certain budget. You can simply deposit that amount upfront, and then make adjustments to save money on electricity. For example, if you want to keep the light bill below $90 per month, your electricity expenses on a 30-day month cannot exceed $3 per day.