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Blog Feb 15, 2012

Things to Know Before Renting an Apartment

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Are you leaving your childhood home for the first time and looking to rent your own apartment with perfect amenities and cheap utilities? Payless Power, a low-income electric provider, can give you some money-saving tips and other useful things to consider before submitting an application or putting down a security deposit on an apartment rental for the first time. When it comes to these helpful pointers, know that one of the easiest ways to save money each month when living in an apartment rental is to maintain an energy-efficient lifestyle.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE RENTING YOUR FIRST APARTMENT

1. Create a Budget

Before finding ways to save, you should devise a budget that helps you strategize how to allocate your money and regulate your spending. This process should begin by identifying the cost of monthly rent. You must confirm that the rent is a value you can pay and does not come at a cost that prevents you from meeting your other financial obligations. You’ll also want to determine the cost of food, entertainment, and outline any possible unexpected expenses that could arise. When it comes to budgeting, allocating your savings is just as important as allocating your spending, so be sure to put aside a portion that is to be deposited within your emergency savings. This will help to protect you in case an unforeseen expense arises that is greater than your budget allows.

2. Check Out Your Landlord

Before you agree to rent an apartment, try to get a sense of what the landlord is like. Everything from their proximity to the apartment to their preferred method of communication in addition to what their expressed accessibility is. Though it may seem only a small detail in the grand scheme of things, a landlord’s willingness to accommodate a renter, their ability to be reached, in addition to their responsiveness to your needs can truly make or break an apartment rental experience. To gain insights on your landlord, consult reviews online from other tenants who live in the apartment building and know what it’s like to deal with the landlord.

3. Get a Sense For the Walls

When it comes to living in close proximity with others, noise always comes as a concern. Especially for apartment rentals where you can be surrounded on nearly every side, taking a measured look at those shared walls is important for understanding what you are getting into. In visiting apartments, identify noisy buildings before submitting an application. Some landlords will even include a policy in the lease agreement that establishes quiet hours. This is great for keeping out unwanted noise, but it also means that you’ll have to be mindful of your volume as well. At the end of the day, if you rent an apartment that’s a lot noisier than you would like, try these methods for drowning out sounds: use plants around your doors and windows to absorb some of the noise that tries to enter spaces, and consider installing double pane windows to further reduce the noise that gets in from the outside.

4. Switch to Energy Star Lights

Energy Star products are appliances or devices that have been deemed by the Energy Star program to be capable of saving the environment and money because of their energy efficiency. This includes everything from refrigerators and washing machines to light bulbs. To start, replace old light bulbs with Energy Star-qualified lights. They last 6 –10 times longer than standard light bulbs and also use 75% less energy while providing high-quality light output. Among the best on the market are LED bulbs, which have additional benefits like improved performance in extreme temperatures. They do have a higher cost but they will save on energy. As an apartment renter, you may even be able to convince your landlord to cover the cost.

5. Invest in Efficient Air Conditioning

Just as with lights, the expense of running hot or cold air comes at a cost to renters. To note, heating and cooling is the fact that they make up the greatest energy costs within homes, so investing in efficiency can be helpful for saving on monthly energy payments. If your new apartment rental doesn’t have central air conditioning, invest in an energy-efficient room air conditioner. Be sure the unit fits securely in the window frame and insulate/cover the unit during each cold winter month. It’s important to select a room air conditioner that is properly sized for the space as it will improve the efficiency of the appliance. Check the features of the unit you’re considering purchasing and remember that you’ll want a conditioner that supplies 20 Btu for every square foot of living space.

6. Get a Programmable Thermostat

If your apartment rental doesn’t have a programmable thermostat, you can ask your landlord to replace it with one. Even if they refuse this idea, you can still offer to install one yourself. Programmable thermostats allow users to pre-select the temperature of their homes as well as the hour in which the device regulates the climate. A programmable thermostat with 4 temperature settings can save over $100 a year from the cost of your monthly utilities! The one caveat is that if it’s programmed incorrectly, then it could cost you more in your utilities. You can opt for a smart thermostat which will gauge your behavior and temperature preferences and create a schedule that promotes a comfortable climate that is also cost-efficient.

7. Clear Registers

Part of being efficient with energy is preventing your HVAC system from having to work harder than it needs to. Keep furniture away from air registers so the heated or cooled air can circulate freely. When an outside object obstructs the air’s pathway, pressure will gradually build as the system will continue to supply air at a steady rate. If that pressure is able to build up enough, it could cause damage. If the registers are blocked, the system must work harder to pull air inside and then release it. As a result, more energy will be used in the process which will gradually wear out the system. While you’re getting your things unpacked and settling into your new apartment, be sure to check that you aren’t putting rugs, furniture, or even drapes in a place that could make it more difficult for the registers to supply the apartment with air.

8. Know How to Use Your Windows

Rays of sunlight enter apartments through windows and bring bright light and heat. While it is easy for apartment renters to minimize this effect within their new homes, it is better still to use that to your advantage. During the winter months, leave the drapes open to let the warm rays of the sun in. Not only will this help to warm things up without requiring the use of energy, it further helps renters to save on lighting as they can refrain from turning on lights. Conversely, close the drapes to keep the room cool during the warmer months of the year. To cool off in the spring and summer, don’t be afraid to open your windows and allow refreshing gusts to enter your apartment.

9.Be Mindful of Phantom Power

Phantom Power, also referred to as vampire power is defined as the power that your devices and appliances consume when they are connected to electricity but are not in use. Gadgets such as your T.V, Computer, Stereo, phone charger, toaster, and power strips are all running down your meter when you are not using them but you’ve left them plugged in. Therefore, to minimize you energy usage which at the end of it translates to electricity bills, you need to ensure that you’ve unplugged all devices, gadgets, and appliances that are not being used. Only connect them to the power source whenever you need to use them.

Alternatively, you can buy smart power strips, that have been designed to automatically disconnect electricity from appliances that are not in use. With this device, you don’t need to disconnect your T.V. from the socket every time you are living your apartment.

10.Wash you clothes with cold water

Owning a dryer and an in-unit washer is a luxury for a first-time renter/tenant and is something that you can do without. Yes, I know that you may argue that it is convenient and gives more privacy, but then again, at what cost should you let it operate? You see, running your dresses or other wears on hot or warm cycles consumes a lot of energy since you are not using buckets of water but the heat energy required to warm those buckets of water. According to smart news, 75% of the power required to wash tons of clothes, are used to get the water warm. Coldwater works just fine. It washes clothes just like warm water can (or even better) and can help ease your pocket a little.

11.Minimize time spent on the shower

While we understand that nothing beats that relaxing feeling you get when you take a long warm shower, it is time you consider reducing the time you spend in there. Moreover, you should also think about installing a low flow showerhead, which use around 2 gallons of water for each 3 or 4 a the usual showerhead uses. I know that this might be slightly expensive, but it is cheaper in the long run.

USE THESE TIPS TO HELP YOU SAVE ON YOUR NEW APARTMENT BEFORE AND AFTER YOU MOVE

The energy-saving tips listed above will help you to save some money when you decide to rent your own apartment. When you finally settle on a place and are trying to get a better sense for your new apartment, be sure to confirm the details with the landlord of the apartment building. You’ll want to find out who is responsible for repairs of the unit, the outdoor maintenance of the building, what the lease terms are, what amenities are included in the building, and if a pet is allowed. Don’t forget to figure out how much the security deposit is, if they need to check your credit score before renting an apartment and make sure you know what utilities you and the landlord are respectively responsible for. Good luck with renting your new apartment and remember to save energy and keep your electric costs low each month!

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