Four ways to make your rental property more energy efficient
Just because you’re renting, doesn’t mean you can’t reduce your home energy use. Here are four energy saving tips that will have a big impact.
The rental market is big business in Australia, with 32% of the population renting their homes.
While renting has its benefits, there are a few downsides, too.
As a renter, you may want to be more energy efficient and sustainable, but you don’t want to overinvest in someone else’s property – especially when your tenancy is likely to be short-lived; only 5% of renters in Australia have fixed-term leases longer than two years, 51% are on a fixed-term one-year lease, and one-fifth are on rolling or periodic leases.
While installing solar panels or sealing those draughty floorboards mightn’t be an option for your rental property, there are still many things you can do to decrease your household energy use.
1. Install LED lights
Replace any regular incandescent or halogen light bulbs with more energy-efficient LEDs. They last around five to 10 times longer and use 75% less energy, too.
LEDs are more expensive to buy than incandescents or halogen globes, but their longer lifespan and lower energy consumption makes them better value for money over time.
If you’re concerned about leaving them behind when you move, hold onto the original globes from when you arrived and pop them back in when you leave.
2. Use adjustable blackout curtains and hemming tape
Blocking out the daytime sun will keep the house much cooler in summer, while letting the sun in during winter will provide a warm boost – but renters can rarely choose what sort of window coverings the landlord installs.
If your landlord isn’t coming to the party on those plantation shutters you’d love, try cheap block-out curtains from a department store. You can hem them to the right length with iron-on hemming tape for a quick fix. The tape is invisible inside the hems of the curtain, so they look like the real deal without the need to cut and sew.
When you move, take your curtains with you. Because you’ve used tape instead of stitching, a quick spin under the iron will undo the hemming so you can redo it to suit your new windows.
3. Use aircon wisely – and clean the filter
If you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning, keep in mind that cooling and heating your property is expensive, accounting for an average of 40% of your energy consumption. 2.3 million Australian households leave the air-con on when no one is home, using a lot of energy. While 24-26 degrees is recommended for energy efficiency, most of us have it set to 22 in summer. Lower temperatures make the unit work harder, using more energy.
A dirty air-con filter will also restrict the flow of air, whereas a regularly cleaned filter will make the unit more efficient and effective. Filters should be cleaned every two to four weeks and aren’t always checked by the landlord. If it’s safe and accessible to do so, take a look and give the filter a clean before you switch the unit on next.
4. Be smart and avoid vampire power
Many charging cables continue to use energy even when the device isn’t connected. And appliances on standby, while using less energy than if they were in use, are still consuming energy needlessly. This is commonly called ‘vampire power.’
Smart power boards can reduce the amount of energy that is wasted by appliances on standby and charging cables that are not in use. Different models work in different ways – some cut power to several outlets when an appliance plugged into one outlet is turned off (think your entire home theatre system is turned off when the television isn’t in use). Others can be controlled by timers or remotely from your smartphone, so you can cut power to appliances when you know that no one is home using them.