Last updated: March 04. 2014 4:05PM - 671 Views
Kim Reid Contributing columnist



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As a renter, you usually have fewer options for long-term energy savings than consumers who own their homes. Typically, renters occupy a unit for a limited period of time and have little input on the types of appliances and materials used in a unit. Therefore, whether you are renting a house or an apartment, your primary goal should be to reduce energy costs immediately and inexpensively.


Before you make any changes to your rental unit, it is important to know what your responsibilities are as a renter. According to the North Carolina Real Estate Commission the renter is responsible for the following:


Keep the rental unit clean (including toilet, sinks, and baths) and safe;


Dispose of trash and garbage in a clean and safe manner;


Pay the rent as promised and comply with the lease;


Do not damage the property;


Comply with any housing codes;


Replace batteries in smoke detectors as needed, and tell the landlord if a detector needs to be repaired;


Leave the unit clean at the end of the lease and in good condition. [Note: It is important at the beginning of your lease to note the condition of your apartment on a checklist and ask the landlord to initial it. That way, you will not be held responsible for damage that existed when you moved in.]


It’s also important to know a landlord has responsibilities as well. According to the North Carolina Real Estate Commission the landlord is responsible to do the following:


Comply with local housing and building codes;


Do whatever is necessary to put and keep the unit in fit and habitable condition;


Maintain in good, safe working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances which have been provided, and promptly repair them when they are notified in writing that they are in need of repair;


Keep all common areas in safe condition; and


Provide and install smoke detectors and replace batteries at the beginning of tenancy.


As a renter, there are many things you can do that will help you reduce consumption and save energy. This is the first in a three part series for renters.


Adjust the Thermostat:


Closely managing your thermostat is an easy way to increase your energy savings.


Set the thermostat as high as you can in summer while still maintaining comfort, and set the thermostat as low as comfortable in winter while still maintaining comfort.


If you have central air conditioning and heating, keep the fan switch on “auto.”


For heating and cooling systems other than heat pumps, manually set the temperature even higher (in summer) or lower (in winter) if you are going to be away from the house or apartment for an hour or more. It will not take long to heat or cool your house or apartment back to a comfortable temperature later.


If your home or apartment does not have a programmable thermostat, talk to your landlord about installing one. A programmable thermostat will allow you to set different temperatures at different times of the day, saving energy and money.


For more information, contact Kim Reid, Extension Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at (910) 592-7161.

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