Summer Apartment Prep: Beat the heat without breaking your budget

Summer invokes images of frozen drinks, cookouts with friends, and staggering energy bills. These five tips will help keep your apartment cool and your energy costs down.

Test Your Air-conditioner Before You Need It

There’s nothing worse than coming home on the first hot, humid day of the year to discover your air-conditioner isn’t working. Test it now to make sure everything is in working order. Turn your system on; if you smell or hear anything strange, turn it off immediately. If everything smells and sounds normal, check that cool air is coming from each air vent. Report any strange odors, noises, and blocked vents to your maintenance office.

Take Advantage of Energy Saving Utility Programs

Many electric companies offer programs to help customers keep their cooling costs down. Call your provider and ask what’s available. You may be eligible for bill averaging, which spreads your energy costs over the full year, instead of a bulk of your expense occurring during the summer. Smart hours programs may also be available. Customers who sign up pay a premium price during peak hours, but a discounted price during off-hours.

Upgrade to LED Bulbs

By now, nearly everyone knows the benefits of LED bulbs. They’re harder to break than traditional bulbs, they use less electricity, and last for years. They also put off less heat than traditional incandescent bulbs, which will make it easier to keep your apartment cool and comfortable in the summer.

Get Your Windows Summer Ready

Invest in some insulated curtain panels to keep the sun from warming your apartment during the day. Insulated panels are more expensive than lightweight alternatives, but they’ll keep your energy bills down throughout the entire year.

Remove any rope caulk or plastic used to winterize your windows, but leave weather stripping in place for a tight seal against the heat. Keep your blinds and curtains closed during the day, then open your windows at night to let in the evening breeze.

If you’d rather take a natural approach to blocking the summer sun, consider planting some morning glory curtains. Morning glory vines thrive in full sun, so they’re perfect for south facing windows. Plant seeds in a long rectangular planter that can sit safely on your windowsill. (Use a drip tray to prevent water damage!)  Hang a curtain rod above the window and attach twine, cord, or netting that hangs down into the planter. Water regularly and you’ll have beautiful, flowering curtains all summer long.

Clean or Replace Your Vents and Filters

If you’re unsure of how long it’s been since your heating and cooling vents have been cleaned, call your maintenance office and check. If it’s been over a year, ask them to come by and make sure there’s no build-up or blockages that could strain your air-conditioner.

Clean or replace your dryer vent (the metal, accordion tubing on the back of the dryer) to make sure trapped hot air doesn’t make its way back into your apartment. Pull your dryer away from the wall, loosen the clamp, and detach the tube. If it has any cracks or tears, replace it. If it’s solid, clean out any trapped lint or clothing, then clamp it back in place.

Replacing your air filter once a month will also help keep summer energy bills down. Look for a hypo-allergenic filter to help cut down on seasonal allergy symptoms.