Let’s start with Water Savings.
There are a variety of ways, ranging from cheap, temporary improvements, to expensive appliances that can reduce your water consumption and help save money on utility costs. So, let’s start with some questions I often get from peers when searching for apartments.
How much can utilities impact your monthly costs and what impact do the seasons have on this?
Utilities can make up a decent percentage of your monthly budget. In general, water bills are similar in winter and summer, as your habits of showers, laundry, and dishes are largely unaffected by the seasons. However, if you have an outdoor irrigation system at your rental, you will use more water in the summer than in the winter.
Electric and gas are very much seasonally impacted. If your building uses gas for heating, your gas bill will typically be 2 to 4 times more in winter versus summer. An all-electric building with electric heat will see big jumps in winter and summer and the lowest cost in spring and fall. I’ll talk about this more in our next post.
How can we improve our water consumption without installing permanent new appliances?
Here’s a list of temporary or removable improvements that can be made to a rental along with their ease of installment and financial commitment.
- Aerators – Sink aerators can reduce water consumption by up to 60% thus saving energy and money. The financial investment of aerators is anywhere from $2-$10. These easy to install devices simply require determining the size of the head of the faucet and screwing on the aerator that matches. Here’s a quick tip on determining size—measure the head of your sink with coins: quarter – regular size, nickel – junior size, dime – tom thumb size aerator. Click here to find aerators for your property.
- Toilet tank bank – Replacing a toilet is expensive and often unrealistic for an apartment or rental property, so how can you have a more efficient toilet? The Toilet Tank Bank is a simple plastic bag with a clip at the top that allows you to fill it with water and simply hang on the inside of the toilet tank. It’s easy to install and can cost under $5 per bag. This allows your regular toilet to have a reduced gallon per flush (gpf) rate because the tank won’t have to fill with as much water each time you flush. While there are other common water saving tips such as putting a brick or water bottle in the back of the toilet to take up space, this inexpensive plastic bag makes for easier access and placement, as well as avoids having an item that can move or hit the moving parts in the back of the toilet. Simply fill with water and hang inside the tank! Check out this link for your own toilet tank bank.
- Low flow shower heads – These devices will save you water, heating energy, and money. When searching for low flow shower heads it is important to consider that you still want high pressure while having low flow. A 1.5 gallon per minute (gpm) shower head still has enough pressure to be able to rinse your hair while also saving water. These will also help save on heating costs since while using less water, you’re also heating less water. While more expensive brands often have more attractive shower heads and can be longer lasting, these low flow shower heads range from just $10 and up depending on the brand. To install simply unscrew your old shower head and screw on your new low flow head! Here’s a link to a brand we trust, Niagara Conservation, for your own low flow showerheads.
- Mushroom drain stopper – While this tip is less of a water saver and more of a clean environment tip, its cheap and easy to install. A Tub Shroom drain catcher fits into any average size drain (they make sizes for both tubs and sinks) and catches all the hair and dirt that would normally clog up your drains. Then to clean them, simply pull out this silicon stopper and wipe it off, then place it back in the drain. These small stoppers are a great way to save yourself from using expensive and harsh chemicals to try to clean clogged drains, which can contaminate water. It also can help prevent a visit from the plumber or super. Check out here for your own mushroom drain stopper.
How does water use affect energy consumption?
When you’re running a faucet, shower, dishwasher, or washing machine, not only are you spending money on water, but if you’re running hot water you are also spending money to heat the water. Depending on the systems in your rental you are likely using gas or electric to heat the water to your desired temperature. While it is hard to reduce how much water you heat, see the tips below for appliances that may use less energy to heat your water.
What type of improvements could I make in a more permanent rental or if any of my current rental’s appliances are failing?
The following are more costly, permanent improvements that may need landlord approval in a rental.
- Water sense, low flow toilet – While replacing a toilet costs over a hundred dollars at least, if you’re rental needs a new toilet, ask the landlord about replacing it with a low flow toilet. Until then use your Toilet Tank Bank tip!
- High Efficiency water heater – Another very expensive improvement, but if your water heater is being replaced check out its efficiency. The more efficient a water heater, the less energy you’ll use to heat the water. If your water heater is in a cold unheated basement invest in a blanket for the water heater. Insulating blankets keep the heat in and keep energy loss to a minimum.
- Energy Star washing machine – While replacing a washer is costly, check for the Energy Star rating on your washer to know if yours is a high efficiency model. If you don’t have an Energy Star washer or are looking to save even more energy be sure to not over fill your loads, as this makes it harder for the washer to perform its cycle. And be sure to use the cold setting whenever possible for your clothes—less time spent heating the water is money saved on your energy bill. You can also look for detergents made to work with cold water so you can use the cold setting on more loads. Most detergents do work just as effectively with cold water as with hot.
- Energy Star dishwasher – If you have a dishwasher be sure to look up the model and determine whether dishes require rinsing before putting them through the dishwasher. Some models don’t require pre-rinsed dishes, which can save plenty of water. Dishwashers also use less water than hand washing when washing a full load, so if you have one be sure to use it! If your rental is getting or needs to replace its dishwasher, request one with an Energy Star label.
So, what are you going to do to improve your water use and reduce your monthly bills?
*Please note we are not affiliated with any of the listed products, these are products we have used in the past and have proven to work for us or our clients.