Renter Energy-Saving Tips

As a renter, you can take a number of simple actions to start saving energy and money, improve the overall comfort of your home, and reduce your carbon footprint. NYSERDA has both no-cost and low-cost energy-saving tips to help you get started in making your home more efficient, as well as tips for how to find energy-efficient living options.

If there are any tips that you need help with or cannot complete on your own, we encourage you to talk to your landlord. Energy-efficient upgrades often lower costs for both renters and landlords, making them a good investment for everyone.

Can’t find what you are looking for? We want to hear from you. We are always looking to update and expand our energy-saving tips to provide you with the best support. Contact us at support.residential@nyserda.ny.gov.

Appliances

Dehumidifiers

  • Close all exterior doors and windows to ensure the equipment runs efficiently.
  • Place your dehumidifier away from sources of dust and dirt to avoid clogging coils and grills, which will cause the dehumidifier to operate less efficiently, wasting energy.
  • When you buy or replace a dehumidifier, purchase an ENERGY STAR® certified dehumidifier. ENERGY STAR dehumidifiers have more efficient refrigerant coils, compressors, and fans than conventional models, allowing them to remove the same amount of moisture while using nearly 30 percent less energy.

Dishwashers

  • Run full loads to minimize energy use and save water.
  • Run your dishwasher early in the morning or late at night in the summer to avoid adding to the electricity demand during the afternoon—the hottest time of day. If your utility offers time-of-use pricing, this may also help lower your utility bill.
  • Select the no-heat drying option when using your dishwasher and let dishes air dry to save energy.
  • Use your dishwasher’s rinse feature, which uses less water than rinsing by hand.

Dryers

  • Avoid the cost of running your dryer by drying your clothes on a clothesline (if space is available) when weather permits or by using an indoor drying rack for very small loads.
  • Run your dryer early in the morning or late at night in the summer to avoid adding to the electricity demand during the afternoon—the hottest time of day. If your utility offers time-of-use pricing, this may also help lower your utility bill.
  • Keep the exhaust vent for your dryer clean and make sure the exterior area it vents to is free from obstructions. A clogged exhaust lengthens drying time and increases energy use. It can also lead to overheating of the dryer, which could increase the risk of a fire.
  • Avoid over-drying your clothes by using the moisture sensor setting to automatically turn off the dryer when the clothes are dry. This will not only save you energy but extend the life span of your clothes.
  • If available, use a low heat or special energy-saving setting on your dryer to use less energy.
  • Avoid over-filling the dryer, which can lengthen drying cycles.
  • Clean the lint trap in your dryer before every load. This is one of the easiest things you can do to improve air circulation and increase the efficiency of the dryer.

Freezers

  • Keep your freezer between 0°F and 5°F. Any colder is unnecessary to keep food frozen and will use more energy than is required.
  • Minimize the number of times you open your freezer door to keep cool air from escaping.

Microwaves and Stoves

  • Save energy by using a microwave or toaster oven instead of the stove or oven to heat smaller food portions.
  • If there is a gas range stove in your apartment, keep the burners clean to ensure maximum efficiency. Blue flames mean good combustion. Yellow flames mean service may be needed to ensure the gas is burning efficiently. If you have any questions about whether your gas range stove is working effectively, talk to your landlord.

Refrigerators

  • Keep the temperature of your refrigerator between 35°F and 38°F. Any cooler is unnecessary for keeping food fresh and will use more energy than is required.
  • Minimize the number of times you open your refrigerator door to keep cool air from escaping.
  • Remove dust buildup collecting on the coils and condenser unit behind and underneath your refrigerator at least once a year. Proper maintenance increases system performance, reduces your bills, and improves air quality and safety.

Washing Machines

  • Wash your laundry with cold water whenever possible. Avoid using the hot cycle (sometimes referred to as the sanitary cycle) when using your washing machine, unless necessary. The hot cycle uses significantly more energy.
  • Wash full loads to minimize energy use and save water. If you must wash a partial load, reduce the level of detergent and water appropriately.
  • If the washing machine you use has spin options, choose the extended spin option to reduce the amount of moisture remaining in your clothes after washing. This will reduce drying time and save you energy.
  • Wash your clothes early in the morning or late at night to avoid adding to the electricity demand during the hottest time of day in the afternoon. If the washing machine is in your unit and your utility offers time-of-use pricing, this may also save you money on your utility bill.

Computers and Home Office Equipment

Computers

  • When you shut down your computer, don’t forget to turn off the monitor—it can use twice as much energy as the computer.
  • Use an advanced power strip to turn off all of your computer accessories with one switch (even in sleep mode, your computer may cost $105 a year to run).
  • Consider using a smartphone, laptop computer, or tablet over a desktop—these devices use less energy.
  • To save energy, reduce the brightness of your computer screen and enable any power management features on your computer. Use the power management feature on your computer monitor to turn off the monitor after a set amount of idle time when you leave the computer on.
  •  When you buy or replace a computer, purchase an ENERGY STAR® certified computerLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. These computers deliver substantial energy savings over standard models.

Office Equipment (Copiers, Fax Machines, Printers, Scanners, and Mailing Machines)

  • Turn off electronics when you’re not using them, as they still draw power.
  • Plug your copier, fax machine, printer, scanner, all-in-one device, and mailing machine into an advanced power strip so that when you manually switch off your computer (or put it in sleep mode), all the other devices will automatically turn off.
  • Set copiers, printers, fax machines, and other office products to standby mode when not in use.

Power Management Tools

  • Use advanced power strips to reduce energy consumption by automatically turning power off when your home energy products are not being used. Advanced power strips are a great way to save time, effort, and money with lower utility bills. There are two types of advanced power strips to choose from: Tier 1 and Tier 2.
  • With Tier 1 advanced power strips, you designate one device as the control, so when you turn off your TV, for example, other electronics plugged into the strip are automatically shut off.
  • Tier 2 advanced power strips can save you even more energy. Tier 2 advanced power strips have features similar to those of Tier 1 advanced power strips, but also include either an infrared or motion sensor that can detect when electronics are not being used and automatically turn them off, without you having to do so.

Electronics and Batteries

Batteries and Charging Units

  • Consider rechargeable batteries over standard batteries. They are more cost-effective in the long term.
  • Avoid leaving charging units for appliances and battery-operated devices plugged in when you’re not using them. Chargers not connected to a device may still draw electricity from the outlet if left plugged in. If a charger that is plugged in but not in use is warm to the touch, it is wasting energy.
  • Plug your battery charging system or power adapter into an advanced power strip to enable you to shut off power with the flick of a switch. For even more savings, use a power strip with a timer or a programmable power strip.

Entertainment Systems

  • Turn off or unplug your digital media players (such as DVD and Blu-ray players), audio players, and video game consoles when you’re not using them to avoid wasting energy. When turned off, most electronics continue to draw power, so unplugging them will ensure you’re not wasting energy and money. To save energy and time, plug entertainment devices into an advanced power strip to centrally turn off all components at once.
  • Activate power-saving settings on game consoles, as gaming system features can use power even when they are not being used. Turn off the controllers when not in use to minimize energy use. Also, install all software updates, as some of them may have power-saving benefits.
  • Stream your content in a smart way. Streaming through a game console uses up to 10 times as much energy as streaming on a laptop or tablet. Consider using another kind of device to stream—like a Blu-ray player, set-top box, or smart TV that has earned an ENERGY STAR® label.

Telephones

  • When you buy or replace a cordless phone, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified phone. These phones are, on average, 40 percent more efficient than conventional products.

Power Management Tools

  • Use advanced power strips to eliminate energy consumption by automatically turning power off when your electronics and appliances are not being used. Advanced power strips are a great way to save time, effort, and money in the form of lower electricity bills. There are two types of advanced power strips to choose from: Tier 1 and Tier 2.
  • With Tier 1 advanced power strips, you designate one device as the control, so when you turn off your TV, for example, other electronics plugged into the strip are automatically shut off.
  • Tier 2 advanced power strips can save you even more energy. Tier 2 advanced power strips have features similar to those of Tier 1 advanced power strips, but also include either an infrared or motion sensor that can detect when electronics are not being used and automatically turn them off, without you having to do so.

Televisions

  • Turn televisions off when no one is watching them, or set up a sleep timer. A TV left on for eight hours a day, or while you sleep, can cost you $41 to $102 per year.
  • If purchasing a flat-panel or large-screen television, consider an LCD or LED model. These use up to 50 percent less energy than an equivalent-sized plasma model.
  • When you buy or replace a television, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified television. ENERGY STAR certified televisions are on average 27 percent more energy efficient than conventional models, saving energy in all usage modes (such as sleep, idle, and on).
  • Check with your cable provider to see if it can provide an ENERGY STAR certified set-top cable box.

Energy-Efficient Living Options

  • Always ask potential landlords if their rentals have energy-saving measures installed. If a building appears old, drafty, or inconsistently hot or cold, it is probably not as energy efficient as it could be.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® building label. ENERGY STAR certified buildings incorporate energy-saving measures into their design and construction to save at least 15 percent more energy than similar structures built to current building codes. These improvements often include high-quality insulation, efficient lighting and appliances, and upgraded building mechanics.
  • Look for the New York Energy Smart Buildings labels. Buildings that earn this label have completed an extensive, top-to-bottom energy efficiency improvement project that cut energy costs by at least 15 percent. Typical upgrade projects include measures such as lighting replacements, improved heating and air conditioning equipment, and better insulation.

Heating and Cooling

Air Conditioners

  • When purchasing a window-unit air conditioner, make sure it is properly sized. An oversized air conditioner can actually be less effective than a smaller unit and waste energy at the same time. Visit the ENERGY STAR® guideLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. to find out what size air conditioner is best for your home.
  • When installing a window unit, make sure it fits tightly so outside air does not get in.
  • To prevent energy loss as winter approaches, remove your window-unit air conditioner or insulate it from the outside with a tight-fitting cover, available at local home improvement or hardware stores.
  • Each degree above 75°F that you set your air conditioner’s thermostat saves you 3 percent of the energy used to cool your apartment.
  • Turn off the air conditioning when you leave to avoid wasting energy.
  • Check the air filter in your air conditioner frequently, especially during heavy use months (such as the summer). If your filter looks dirty, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every three months. A dirty filter slows down airflow and makes your system work harder to keep you more comfortable.

Ceiling Fans

  • On hot summer days when air conditioning is necessary, use a ceiling fan (if available in your rental) along with your air conditioner to circulate the air throughout the room and cool the room more efficiently. Make sure the fan is running counterclockwise to create a cooling downdraft.
  • In the winter, a ceiling fan (if available in your apartment) can help heat a home more economically. Most fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan in a clockwise direction. Reverse the fan to force warm air near the ceiling down into the living space.
  • Turn off fans when you leave the room.

Radiators

  • If your apartment has radiators, talk to your landlord about placing heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls to minimize heat loss.
  • You can also talk to your landlord about bleeding trapped air out of your radiators at least once a year, for example, at the beginning of the winter season. When trapped air prevents water or steam from filling the radiator, the radiator may fail to heat efficiently.

Thermostats

  • If your apartment has its own thermostat, lower the temperature an additional seven to 10 degrees when you are sleeping.
  • If your apartment has a standard thermostat, talk to your landlord about using a programmable thermostat to take control of your heating and cooling levels, which can reduce your energy use and lower your utility bills. Programmable thermostats allow you to easily program your thermostat and regulate the temperature of your rental, no matter where you are. Visit the ENERGY STAR guideLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. to find out what programmable thermostat is best for your rental.

Lighting

Decorative Lighting

  • If using decorative lighting on the exterior of your apartment, turn off holiday lights at night or attach them to a programmable timer or photosensor that detects daylight to prevent energy waste.
  • When you buy or replace decorative lighting for your rental, purchase ENERGY STAR® certified light stringsLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. They consume 75 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strings.

Light Bulbs and Freestanding Light Fixtures

  • Replace conventional light bulbs (such as incandescent, halogen, fluorescent) with energy-efficient options (such as LEDs and smart light bulbs), particularly in fixtures used most often. Energy-efficient lighting uses less energy and lasts longer.
  • Replace freestanding light fixtures, such as desktop and floor fixtures, with those that have integrated LED lamps.
  • Turn off the lights when leaving a room or leaving the home.
  • When you buy or replace light bulbs, purchase light bulbs with the ENERGY STAR labelLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. This is the easiest and most reliable way to ensure the light bulb you purchase delivers exceptional features while using less energy. ENERGY STAR light bulbs use 70 to 90 percent less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs and last at least 15 times as long.

Personal Transportation

Alternative Transportation

  • If you drive to work each day, consider taking advantage of carpools and rideshare programs. You could cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you take turns driving with other commuters. Many urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use high-occupancy vehicle lanes, which are typically less congested, further improving your fuel economy. Visit 511NYRideshare.orgLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. and explore your transportation options.
  • Explore work-from-home options with your employer to significantly reduce transportation-related costs.
  • Consider using public transportation, walking, and biking to reduce pollution and traffic from vehicles.

Buying a Vehicle

  • If you are in the market for a new car, purchase an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Not only are they cleaner, but they offer a cutting-edge driving experience, save money on fuel, and need less maintenance than gas or diesel cars. NYSERDA offers a Drive Clean Rebate to individuals who purchase electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles that can be combined with available federal tax credits to help offset the higher initial cost.

Driving

  • Install low rolling resistance tires, which improve the fuel economy of your vehicle.
  • Keep your vehicle engine properly tuned to avoid repair costs, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce pollution.
  • Have your car regularly serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Leave vehicle rooftop luggage racks, kayak holders, and ski racks on your car only when necessary, as they add weight, reduce aerodynamics, and decrease fuel efficiency.
  • Keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure to improve your gas mileage by up to 3 percent. Properly inflated tires are also safer and last longer. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker on the driver’s side door frame, in the glove box, or in your owner’s manual. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall; maximum pressure may not mean proper pressure.
  • For gas vehicles, use the grade and type of motor oil identified in the owner’s manual and change at the recommended interval. Doing so can improve your gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent. Remember that electric cars don’t require oil changes.
  • Avoid idling, which gets 0 miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas idling than do cars with smaller engines. Idling for just five minutes increases fuel consumption by 7 to 14 percent. Turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked to save fuel and reduce unnecessary emissions.
  • Avoid aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and sudden braking), which wastes fuel. It can lower your fuel mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.
  • Combine errands into one trip to save time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Trip planning ensures that traveling is done when the engine is warmed up and efficient, and it can reduce the distance you travel.
  • Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your gas mileage by about 1.5 percent.

Windows and Doors

Doors and Windows

  • Talk to your landlord about caulking and weatherstripping around your doors and windows to minimize heat loss and save energy.
  • As winter approaches, replace your window screens with storm windows, if equipped, to provide an extra barrier to the cold outside area. You can also put up window plastic to protect against drafty windows in the winter.

Drapes/Shades

  • In cold weather, take advantage of the sun’s warmth by keeping shades and drapes on sunny windows open during daylight hours.
  • In hot weather, keep your shades down and the drapes drawn on sunny windows during daylight hours.

Renewable Energy

  • Solar power is available to renters via community solar. Community solar projects are an array of solar panels installed in a sunny, off-site location. Many community solar projects are becoming available across the State. By participating in a project, you will get credits toward your electricity bill by subscribing to a local clean energy project. Learn more about community solar projects via NYSERDA’s NY-Sun Program.
  • As a renter, you may have the option to choose who supplies the energy your utility delivers to your home. Electricity comes from a variety of sources, including natural gas, oil, coal, nuclear, wind, and solar. Green power is electricity generated from renewable energy sources that are environmentally friendly, such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower. By choosing a green power energy supplier, you will be supporting renewable energy development and reducing your carbon footprint. Learn more about options for choosing green powerLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

Water Fixtures

  • Install low-water-use fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms, such as a low-flow showerhead and faucet aerators, to reduce water usage. If you can’t install one yourself, talk to your landlord about having one installed.
  • Consider reducing the time of your showers to conserve water and save energy.
  • Talk to your landlord if there are any dripping faucets in your rental unit. Fixing drips is a cost-effective and easy way to save energy.