Ever feel like the inside of your apartment is actually colder than it is outside? If you’re a Canuck living in a rental apartment, you know this feeling all too well. Even if you’re living in a new building, chances are, it’s full of little nooks and crannies that are letting heat escape left, right and center. Typically, a home loses nearly 50 percent of its heat through the walls and roof.
The problem, in addition to icy toes, is a colossal waste of energy. The good news is that there are many do-it-yourself ways to stay warm and green—just by insuring your apartment is properly insulated. Just remember to consult with your landlord prior to doing anything that could impact the rest of the building in any way.
Cut the Draft
Many apartment buildings are twenty-plus years old, meaning that they’re likely a bit draftier. First off, you need to be proactive. If you apartment is cold, changes are it’s not because the heat isn’t on high enough. In fact, raising the heat could result in even more wasted energy when it’s the windows, doors and electrical outlets that are letting the cold air in.
It’s time to launch an investigation to find any cracks and gaps that are causing air leaks. Places to check are air conditioning units, phone jacks, electrical outlets, mail slots, doorframes and window frames. Just hold your hand over each area. If there’s a problem, you’ll know. A good indicator is light: If the hallway light is visible under your front door, cold air is getting in. Another trick is to close the window or door on a piece of paper. If it pulls out easily, without tearing, you’ve got a problem.
Once you’ve determined the problem areas, fill out a work order to request weather stripping. One roll can cost as little as a few dollars and can be purchased at your local hardware store. A great way to insulate windows is to use some plastic film as a barrier. Also available at your local hardware store, the plastic wrap just needs to be measured, cut and taped down with masking tape. Your landlord will thank you for all the energy saved.
Stick to One Space
If you’re not using a room, close the door to it. Also, make your apartment a balcony-free zone in the winter so as to avoid massive loss of heat every time the door opens. When you need fresh air, go for a brisk walk. You need the vitamin D!
Ask for a Space Heater
Now that your suite is draft-free, you should be feeling a difference in temperature. If you’re still chilly, ask for a space heater. These little machines are relatively inexpensive to run and can effectively heat a small space rather quickly. Like all electrical appliances, however, there is always a fire hazard so take extra precautions to ensure that there is nothing obstructing the heating unit. Obstructions might include clothing, blankets, towels—even dust can cause a problem so make sure the heater is clean.
Invest in a Humidifier
Not only is artificial heat extremely drying to your skin and lungs, without humidity, it can seem less efficient. Spaces that are slightly humid tend to feel warmer, meaning that even if the heat in your rental isn’t set to high, you can still feel comfortable.
Winter is a great time to change up your rental unit’s interior décor. Just by adding some heavy curtains over drafty windows and plush area rugs atop poorly insulated floors, you’ll save a ton of energy and heat by trapping the warm air inside—rather than heating the outside.
If you want to stay warm without racking up energy bills, pile on the layers. Think thick wooly socks, slippers, fleece and long johns. Paired with a warm cup of tea and a comfy blanket, you’ll be shocked at how cozy your apartment will feel. Before long, the layers will have to come off one at a time and you’ll be thankful that your unit isn’t over-heated.
Check Your Radiator’s Efficiency
This is when your landlord comes into play. Radiators can be very un-green, especially when they’re located right by windows where the majority warmth produced is lost to the outdoors. If your apartment isn’t submetered yet, this means your landlord is paying for heat that’s not being used. First, ask your landlord to bleed the rads to ensure there are no air bubbles. Then, ask that he/she install reflectors behind them. This will focus the warmth toward the middle of the space rather than into the windows and walls.
The RentSeeker.ca Team