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Eliminate the Waste: 5 Tips for Saving Money on Utilities

Written by Kris Lindahl REALTOR® CRS CLHMS
CEO/Owner The Kris Lindahl Team at Kris Lindahl Real Estate
2407 109th Ave NE Suite 110
Blaine, MN 55449
www.krislindahl.com
twitter.com/krislindahl
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www.minnesotacommercial.com

 

One can’t go wrong when taking steps to conserve energy use in their apartment home. Besides helping to save precious natural resources, residents can also save a good bit of money by making a few small changes in their units and in the way they live. These five useful tips for reducing utility use can ease one’s conscious as well as those monthly bills.

1.  Kitchen Energy Efficiency Tips

The use of ovens and dishwashers can make the kitchen one of the hottest rooms in the home. In warmer months, experts recommend using these devices in the evening time when it’s cooler to reduce the AC’s heat load. Furthermore, utility use can be further reduced by disabling the second rinse and heat cycles on the dishwasher and allowing them to air dry. Another way to keep the kitchen cool is to install small LED lights beneath counters to reduce use of heat producing and energy draining overhead lights.

2.  Smart Power Strips for Modern Households

In a gadget loving society, most households have numerous appliances, consoles and chargers plugged in at all times.  Whether they are being used or not, such juice drainers are called ‘energy vampires.’ However, today’s smart power strips are designed to save energy and money by shutting down energy flow. These modern accessories cost around $40, feature multiple outlets, provide surge protection and also power down connected devices when they aren’t in use.

3.  Water Wise Conservation Tips

Many apartment communities include water with rental rates as an amenity, so low-flow shower heads and toilets are likely already installed to minimize water use. However, some steps renters can take to further reduce water use and energy costs include:

  • Doing laundry in large loads and using cold water.
  • Running the dishwasher only when it’s full adjusting settings to shut off second rinse cycles and heat drying.
  • Keeping showers short or taking baths in lieu of showers to expend less water.
  • Collecting rainwater in buckets to use for watering plants. It’s free, and plants prefer it over tap water.

4.  Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Lighting

Traditional incandescent bulbs may provide ample lighting but are rather inefficient in a number of ways. They tend to burn rather hot and increase cooling costs. They also draw more energy than today’s modern options such as LEDs and compact fluorescent light bulbs that are far more efficient. Furthermore, energy-efficient options have a greater lifespan that incandescent bulbs, so renters can save even more over the long term. Changing the most commonly used five bulbs in the home can have a noticeable impact on utility bills whole reduceing one’s carbon footprint.

5.  Take Control of Heating and Cooling Costs

Depending on the age of the apartment building, there may be a traditional thermostat or a smart home thermostat installed. Regardless of the type, lowering the thermostat by one degree can reduce energy costs by 3 percent. However, energy rated smart thermostats can help renters save much more, as they can be controlled at will even while away from home. These are ideal for those away from home for several consecutive hours and want to reduce use but prefer to return to a cozy temperature.

At the end of the day, every small change made can add up to big savings. While upgrades are certainly helpful, habits can make a huge difference when they’re consistent. If you’re looking to help the environment or just want save a little bit more every month, these changes can get you headed in the right direction.

Tips for Living with a Roommate for the First TimeLiving with a roommate can be an eye-opening experience, especially if you’re accustomed to living in on your own. Yet, even if you roomed with a brother or sister, living with a complete stranger is a totally different experience. Conflicts can arise for, seemingly, arbitrary reasons. Sometimes unexamined habits, such as eating food in a certain area or leaving dirty dishes in the sink, may cause tension. A vital piece of advice: maintain open lines of communication and set clear expectations with your roommate from the very start. The following are a few boundaries you’ll want to discuss from the start to establish a shared understanding and maintain peace and harmony with your roommate.

Personal and public stuff.

This has to be clear: which stuff that you have in common areas are okay for common use and which stuff is only yours to use. Do you share your laptop and your books? What about pots and pans, utensils, knives? What about your shampoo and conditioner? Be clear about what you’re okay with sharing, and also have a clear understanding of what your roommate is willing to share with you.

Visiting hours.

Your apartment community may have their own timeline for this, but your roommate and you should also set expectations with respect to your own apartment.

Noise

Some like television, while others avoid it. Nevertheless, it’ll likely be on at some point, so make an arrangement as to what volume level is reasonable for the TV to be set at. Also, discuss music volume. Maybe certain times of the day are better than others.

Housekeeping schedule.

Make an arrangement on the everyday household tasks that will need to be completed, and set a schedule: Who deals with cleaning the floor, putting out the trash, loading and unloading the dishwasher? Will you take turns buying groceries? The significant thing is to be fair.

Lights out.

Different work and school schedules mean that you and your roommate might need to sleep or wake up at different times. Discuss expectations about when you both expect your sleeping, working, and studying schedules to be.

Bill payment.

Since you may have to pay for some bills such as water, electricity, in addition to cable and internet, be clear on how you’ll be sharing the responsibilities for the bills and use of these utilities. Also take notice of the items you’ll have to continually purchase. Have an agreement on how you’ll buy and use your bathroom and kitchen supplies and also food. You might want to buy your own or share the costs.

The best step toward living cohesively with a roommate is to set clear expectations and follow through on them. These expectations not only give you an idea as to what you have rights to in the apartment but also what you are responsible for. Follow the suggestions above and be flexible as new situations and issues arise.

How to Talk about Clutter with Your RoommateIf you’re living independently for the first time, with a roommate or significant other, you’ll encounter a universal problem: people organize their lives differently. What seems to be clutter to one person will be organized chaos to another. This problem may appear irresolvable to some. If your roommate or significant other doesn’t think about what counts as clutter in the same way you do, how can you change their mind? Luckily, you don’t have to.

Organizing a shared space isn’t about changing anybody’s idea of what is a mess and what isn’t. Actually, it’s just a matter of communication, like most other things, and respect. You live in a common space: you have common goals. Talk about them.

Shared Interests

If you talk about clutter only when you’re annoyed about it, the way you communicate with your roommate or significant other may take the form of blame. You might say, “Why haven’t you picked up your laundry?” Or, “Why is this room still not clean?” This doesn’t do anyone any good.

You live with someone. If you haven’t explicitly decided on what kind of organization you both would like to see for each room, then you cannot appeal to an agreed upon goal. The sentence, “Why is this room still not clean?” appears to be grounded in an agreed upon norm. And that’s why it’s so disorienting and, sometimes, maddening, when people talk this way without establishing, beforehand, what this agreed upon goal is.

Talk about your shared interests, what each of you hope to get from your home, and make compromises. But certainly do not wait until you are aggravated, annoyed, or irritable to bring up how your shared space should be organized.

State how you both want to use the room and accommodate each other’s visions. If your visions contradict, maybe split the space, or try to allocate different spaces for your separate visions.

Agree upon the appropriate items for the space. Then talk about how you’d like to see them stored when not in use.

Conclusion

Most of all be reasonable about your vision. You share space with another person. Sometimes you can’t get everything you want. No matter what you decide about organization, having a discussion about your goals, interests, and expectations is always healthy. And it’s certainly the best way to talk about clutter with your roommate or significant other.

create a chore wheelYou know the type of situation. Your roommate’s garbage lines the countertop. The follow-up awkward conversation. Or your sister uses all the clean glasses in the house to drink the gallon of chocolate milk before you can get to it. And they sit in the sink.

You don’t want to be mean, although you might be annoyed. The best way tackle this type of situation is to plan for it. Of course, everyone is responsible for their own personal messes: laundry, bathroom, etc. But the problem comes when a public space needs cleaning. Who should clean it? You both use it. And you both, probably, don’t clean up after yourselves as much as you should.

A Chore Wheel

ApartmentGuide.com has a very good suggestion. Create a chore wheel. Add all the tasks you’ll need to complete to clean common areas. Have a vote to determine the two worst areas. Place those two areas at opposite ends of the wheel. That way one of you will always have one of the “bad” areas, while one of you will never have both “bad” areas.

Having a plan beforehand can prevent tension in the house. It can also make cleaning the common areas much easier: both of you are responsible for all of it, although individually you’ll only be responsible for half of it at any given time. That way, next time you forget to cover your bowl in the microwave, you might be more likely to clean the mess immediately, to save time later.

A chore wheel can work for any living arrangement. Whether you live with a roommate, family member, or significant other, a chore wheel is a good way to divvy up work unbiasedly. View the ApartmentGuide.Com chore wheel below. Create a wheel that’ll work for all members of the house. Make sure it’s fair, balanced, and includes all the tasks to clean common areas in your home.

http://www.apartmentguide.com/blog/downloadable-free-chore-wheel/

Topics to Discuss with Potential RoommateYou don’t really know people until you live with them. These five topics will help you determine, beforehand, whether a potential roommate will be a good fit for you.

Cleaning

Many people are okay, and sometimes don’t even notice, living in a mess they’ve made themselves. Dishes could be stacked to the ceiling, the floors unswept for days. But you won’t notice at all if you’re never home or if you play video games constantly. Living with another person can really open your eyes to some of your messiest habits. Ask your potential roommate what he/she thinks a clean home looks like.

Allergies

Do you spread peanut butter all over your countertop by using it as a plate for your peanut butter sandwich? Do you have cats? Now is the time to understand if your potential roommate has allergies and what kinds of changes in lifestyle it might entail for you.

Typical Schedule

If you work early hours, you probably won’t enjoy the company of a roommate who parties all night with Call of Duty. You probably won’t like his nightly guitar practices, either. Ask about your potential roommate’s typical week and weekend. You might be surprised. And, if you’re not, so much the better.

Visitors

Whether you are introverted and remain aloof for large portions of the day, or extroverted and enjoy the company of many people, the type of people you enjoy hanging out with might not be the type of people your potential roommate socializes with. Ask your potential roommate how often guests will stop by.

Sharing

Will you split the food bill? Will your Ramen be his Ramen? These are things you should decide beforehand. If you don’t want to share your things with your roommate, let that be known. But don’t wait until move-in day. Set expectations at your initial meeting.