21 Tips on Reducing Your Rental Home’s Energy Bills
With rising utility prices, renters know how important it is to keep the cost of living down. When looking at reducing energy bills in manufactured homes, it’s important to come up with a strategy that addresses all aspects of the home. This includes ways to improve energy usage inside the home, prevent energy loss by maximizing the home’s exterior and implementing ongoing maintenance practices that will keep your utility costs low for years to come.
Tips for Energy-Efficient Mobile Home Interiors
The first step when lowering utility bills in manufactured homes is to make as many small improvements around the home as possible. This means going room by room and thinking of all the ways to maximize energy consumption and lower utility usage altogether.
The kitchen is always the home’s biggest energy sink. In fact, the average American home consumes the majority of its total utilities just in using kitchen appliances. This is because appliances like the refrigerator, stove, range and dishwasher all consume energy while plugged in, even if they aren’t in use.
With this in mind, it’s necessary to look at how you currently use your kitchen if you want to make your manufactured home more energy-efficient.
Here are some tips to help you improve your kitchen’s energy efficiency:
Keep your Refrigerator Clean: Because a home’s refrigerator is such an enormous energy consumer, it’s a good idea to make sure it runs as efficiently as possible. What inhibits a refrigerator’s efficiency is when the coils in the back become too dirty. Add it to your to-do list to vacuum out your refrigerator coils on a regular basis, and you’ll notice an improvement in your energy consumption.
Regularly Check Your Refrigerator Temperature: When your refrigerator and freezer are operating at below necessary temperatures, they’re working harder than necessary to keep food cold or frozen. This accumulates a waste of energy, which is hard on the environment and your wallet. By getting into a regular practice of testing and adjusting your refrigerator temperature, you can ensure you’re doing something extra that can help reduce energy bills in your rental home.
Use an accurate thermometer to test that your fridge is no colder than 38° F to 40° F, and that your freezer is between 0° F and 5° F. Be sure to test and adjust your appliance every couple of months to ensure you’re minimizing your energy consumption.
Defrost Food Without the Microwave: A little planning ahead can help reduce energy bills in manufactured homes. It’s common for everyone to use the microwave to defrost food before cooking, or to let it sit in hot water. But both of these practices use energy and can be avoided by letting food thaw in the fridge during the day.
By changing old habits and reducing the amount you depend on appliances and hot water, you can save energy and money over time.
Use Lids on Pots and Pans: Another smart kitchen habit to get into is covering pots and pans with lids while food is cooking on the stovetop. Lids help to reduce the amount of heat that’s emitted, which speeds up cooking time so the stove doesn’t stay on as long.
Use Crockpots or Pressure Cookers: If you want to reduce your cooking time even more, use a crockpot or pressure cooker to cook meals. This avoids having to use the oven, which requires a lot of energy to heat up and keep running.
Use Your Oven for Large Meals Only: When you do opt to use the oven, try to only use it for cooking large meals or multiple dishes at once. It’s much more efficient to cook more at once than to use the oven for smaller meals that will still use the same amount of energy.
Use Cold Water for Cooking: It’s tempting to use hot tap water to cook or wash vegetables with. However, using cold water eliminates the energy required to produce hot water. It’s also a better health practice, as hot water from water heaters can sometimes exacerbate certain health risks.
Only Run a Full Dishwasher: Running the dishwasher only when it’s full is one of the best energy efficiency practices to get into. If your dishwasher has an eco-mode, try to use it as often as possible. Also, avoid using the heat dry setting, as this uses a lot more energy and takes much longer for the wash to complete.
Another way to save energy with dishwashing is to avoid rinsing off dishes with water before putting them in the dishwasher. By scraping off food into the garbage instead of rinsing with water, you can help reduce your hot water consumption and save on utility costs.
Bathroom and Laundry Room
Once you’ve assessed your energy consumption in the kitchen, you can then move on to your bathroom and laundry room. Both the bathroom and the laundry room can consume much more energy than is strictly necessary, unless you have the right habits in place.
Here are a few suggestions on how to reduce energy bills from your bathroom and laundry room utilities:
Use a Shower Timer: Reducing the amount of time spent in the shower can decrease hot water consumption each day, leading to lower utilities in rental homes over time. Pick up a waterproof shower timer or set your phone’s timer for five minutes. If everyone in the household sticks to five-minute showers, it can add up to big savings annually.
Install WaterSense Showerheads: Low-flow showerheads are designed to use fewer gallons of water per minute. WaterSense is the EPA’s designation for water-efficient products. Installing a WaterSense showerhead can help the average household save $145 annually on utility costs.
Clean the Lint Trap: A dirty dryer that’s full of lint prevents the appliance from functioning properly. It’s also a fire hazard. To ensure your dryer is running like new, be sure to always clean out the lint trap after each use. Otherwise, it will take longer and use more energy to dry your clothes.
Add a Dry Item to Your Load: When you add your load of clean clothes to the dryer, be sure to throw in a dry article of laundry, like a towel. A dry item helps to reduce the amount of moisture in the load and offsets the amount of heat needed to fully dry the clothes.
Though the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room are a great start when thinking of how to reduce energy bills in your rental home, there are still other areas of the home to assess. For even more efficient mobile homes, look at your energy consumption in your main living space and bedrooms.
There are plenty of ways to reduce your energy bills, including trying out some of the following simple changes to the living area and bedrooms:
Dress up Your Windows: Older rental manufactured homes may have single-pane windows. These aren’t especially efficient at keeping warm air in. In order to prevent warmth from escaping and cold air from entering, add heavy drapes to your windows and keep them drawn during cold evenings.
Window treatments act as an insulation barrier, but they also prevent the hot summer sun from elevating the room temperatures, which makes air conditioning units work that much harder. Drapes are relatively inexpensive to make yourself, and can save on energy costs in your manufactured home throughout the year.
Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Lighting: If you’re looking for how to lower energy bills in rentals, then one of the easiest, most sustainable ways to do so is to switch out existing lightbulbs. An average of 10% to 12% of total home energy consumption is due to lighting. Switching out older, regular lightbulbs for newer LED bulbs is a great way to increase the lifespan of your bulbs while reducing energy consumption.
Look for ENERGY STAR-rated lightbulbs, which last 10 to 25 times longer than a traditional bulb. While newer, energy-efficient bulbs have a higher upfront cost, they will allow you to save money over time by reducing your energy consumption and eliminating the need to continuously replace your lightbulbs.
Invest in Energy-Efficient Air Conditioning: Air conditioning units are in an estimated 100 million homes in the United States. This accounts for 87% of households running AC appliances. Because of the high demand for home air conditioning, units today are being built to be more energy-efficient.
If your household uses AC or you are thinking of upgrading to a new unit, be sure to choose one that’s ENERGY STAR-rated. AC costs can really make your utility bills skyrocket, so having an energy-efficient unit will help ease those higher bills during the hotter months.
Install Programmable Thermostats: Programmable thermostats can be installed in homes to help reduce energy waste. Programmable thermostats are designed to let heat run while you’re home and then be turned off while you’re out. They can also automatically adjust temperatures while you sleep, providing a 24/7 solution to interior climate control.
Most programmable thermostats are relatively inexpensive and can end up saving a lot on utility costs in the long run.
Ensure Heaters Aren’t Blocked: If space is tight in your rental home, it may seem tempting to place furniture right up against the wall. However, it’s important to make sure nothing is blocking heat registers. Blocked heat registers prevent the warmth from circulating, which means the home will require more energy to heat it up completely. By freeing up the space in front of the heaters, you can consume less energy and save money.
Energy Efficient Exterior and Home Maintenance
Getting into the habit of regular home maintenance, including your home’s exterior, can really help to keep your rental home more efficient over time. Here are some maintenance tips to help improve energy efficiency in your rental home and reduce your utility costs year-round.
Check for Water Leaks: Water damage caused by leaks and seepage can compromise your manufactured home’s building envelope. It’s smart to develop the practice of regularly inspecting your rental home for water leaks and seepage. If you notice anything amiss, ensure that it’s corrected right away before mold, rot and cracks start to form. This can cause air leaks, which create a way for heat to escape and cold to sneak in.
Clean and Replace Weather Stripping: Weather stripping around all exterior access points can wear down over time due to usage and exposure to the elements. Regularly examine your weather stripping to ensure it’s still intact. If there are cracks, this means the integrity of the strip was worn out. It’s important to replace these as soon as possible. Air leaks that cause even the slightest draft are enough to allow warm interior air to escape and cold outside air to enter.
It’s also wise to get into the habit of cleaning your weather stripping regularly to prevent it from wearing out. This helps maintain the quality of your building envelope and conserves energy.
Monitor Your Energy Usage Online: They say awareness is key to making a lasting change. Use your utility company’s online tools to track your energy consumption. Before you make any energy efficiency improvements around your home, check what your average consumption is like. Then, once you’ve made a few changes, check back in to see what kind of difference is being made in energy costs.
You can also use the online tracking system to see when peak usage is. These are times when energy costs will be higher. Avoid these times for doing laundry and running the dishwasher, in order to save on your utility costs.
Talk to Your Landlord About Maintenance and Upgrades: If you’re concerned about how to lower energy bills in rentals, it’s important to talk to your landlord. You can find out from your landlord how the home is insulated, including the roof, walls and crawlspace. Ask about your furnace and find out how often it’s serviced, along with when the filter was replaced last. This can help to ensure that it’s functioning properly and can improve its efficiency. You can also find out about the last time the ductwork was cleaned, as this can also improve the energy efficiency of your rental home.
Another way to save on energy costs is to ask your landlord to turn down or adjust the settings on your hot water heater. This will ensure it isn’t consuming an unnecessary amount of energy.
Buy or Rent an Energy-Efficient Manufactured Home
For those who are concerned about lowering utility bills in manufactured homes, rest assured that today’s movable homes are designed to be more efficient when it comes to heat and cold loss. HomeFirstTM Certified manufactured homes are constructed with high building standards that prevent air leakage in walls, floors and ceilings. Our “fit and finish” construction process helps you to save hundreds of dollars annually on utility costs.
For more information on buying or renting a HomeFirstTM manufactured home, come tour one of 15 mobile home communities in Michigan. Contact us today to discover the benefits of the affordable lifestyle of HomeFirstTM Certified Communities.