Whether you live on the top floor or the ground floor of your apartment complex, you may be struggling to keep air-conditioning costs low during the peak summer months. Keeping your apartment cool and comfortable -- without going broke -- can be a challenge, especially if you live in an older building or your apartment is exposed to a lot of sunlight. However, there are some simple, low-cost ways to save on energy costs and keep your apartment nice and cool all summer long.
1. Use a mister attachment with your air conditioner. Cool mist-creating products like the Cool-n-Save can help to lower the air temperature by as much as 30 degrees through a process known as "adiabatic saturation." This technology releases ultra-fine mist into the air that in turn sucks heat out of the air as water absorbs the energy during the evaporation process.
2. Use the ceiling fan regularly. Many renters don't realize how effective a ceiling fan can be to keep the room cool. Clean Energy Insight, a volunteer group created by members of the North American Young Generation in Nuclear, points out that ceiling fans are also among the most inexpensive options for creating that cool breeze you want in your living space. Fans don't require any more electricity than light bulbs. Just remember to adjust your thermostat when you have your ceiling fans running and you'll end up reducing your cooling costs by about 3 to 5 percent.
3. Close off unused space. It's easier to cool just one or two rooms, rather than an entire apartment. Shut the door to closets, bathrooms, and other rooms that you don't plan to spend time in. This will keep the cool air where you need it most, such as your living room and bedroom.
4. Turn off the lights. Incandescent bulbs create heat. Keep the lights turned off when you don't need them -- and consider using ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent lightbulbs, which produce a fraction of the heat.
5. Fortify windows and doors.Most of the summer heat you're trying to keep out will enter through windows and doors. These should be as well sealed as possible. If there is a draft, ask your landlord to add additional caulk, sealant, or weatherstripping. Also ask about applying highly reflective window films that will help block the sun's heat. If nothing else, upgrade from common vinyl blinds to more efficient window treatments, such as medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings; these can reduce heat gains by 33 percent, according to EnergySavers.gov.
6. Restrict oven use. If you can plan your meals ahead of time so you're only cooking or baking one or two days out of the week -- instead of every day -- you'll find that it's much easier to keep the apartment cool. Using your stove and oven on hot days can raise the temperature in the kitchen and in other rooms nearby very quickly. Consider cooking a week's worth of food all at one time -- ideally in the evening, when it's coolest outside -- or make the most of summer with a few days of grilling outdoors!