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Renting

How Much Rent Can You Afford?

Consider your monthly expenses and long-term financial goals to make sure you don’t overextend yourself.

How Much Rent Can You Afford

The oft-noted rule of thumb is that you should try to stick with spending a maximum of 30 percent of your income on rent. However, that rule of thumb rarely indicates whether or not that should be gross income, or net income after taxes, or if related housing expenses like utilities should be included in that 30 percent.

The reality is that how much you should spend on rent really depends on a lot of factors that are personal to the renter. And unfortunately, in many cities spending only 30 percent of your income on housing is just a pipe dream.

So how much should you spend?

The best way to determine how much you can spend on rent is to evaluate how much money you have coming in each month, and how much you have going out.

Suppose you earn $4,000 per month gross income, and your net paycheck after social security, unemployment insurance, and tax withholdings leaves you $2,800 per month in the bank.

Now subtract your car payment, gas and insurance costs, credit card payments, school loan payments, cell phone costs, gym membership, food, utilities costs, and some amount for entertainment, dates, clothing, and any and everything else you typically spend money on each month.

Now, how much is left over?

Optimally, some portion of the money left over should go into an investment account each month — even if it is only $25. (If you’re saving money at work via a 401(k) plan, that could mitigate the need to have extra money left each month to invest.)

If you have $1,800 per month left after subtracting all your expenses, then you should try to spend $1,400 or less on rent so you can save $400 per month. If you have $1,400 left over, then you can spend $1,000 on rent so you have money left over to invest.

A rental affordability calculator can help you determine what you can spend in a specific area.

Living within your means

Doing a budget might be an eye opener. You could find that you’re spending too much on coffee, dining out, or hobbies. If you spend more than you earn, your credit card balances will increase, and that can be very bad for your personal finances. You might want to work more hours to increase your income, cut spending, or get a bailout — whatever it takes to pay off the debt.

If you’re one of the lucky ones with no car payment, credit card debt, or school loan payments, and you make significantly more than you earn each month, that doesn’t mean you should spend whatever is left on rent. Try to live within your tastes and desires, while saving as much money as possible for your future and buying a home.

Spending 30 percent of your income on rent is a nice feel-good number, but it may not be feasible. The truth is, you need to look at your own personal income, spending habits and debts to get a picture of what you can afford. Make sure what you can “afford” is calculated after all your expenses and most importantly after you are socking away some money for your future.

Published by Leonard Baron of professorbaron.com on Zillow Blog.

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Real Estate News Renting

Rents Are Up, and Not Where You Might Expect

The Bay Area, New York City and other hot real estate markets have been coping with rapid rent appreciation for years. Now the rent is surging in smaller markets, raising affordability concerns.

Median monthly rents rose in January, and in a lot of places you might not expect. Along with the usual hot West Coast housing markets, Kansas City, Nashville, TN, Portland, OR, and Charlotte, NC were among the metros with the biggest year-over-year increases.

The new data shows the spread of rising rents, and decreasing rental affordability is likely to follow. Zillow reported last year that renting is now half as affordable as buying, on a monthly basis, in the U.S.

“Since 2000, rents have grown roughly twice as fast as wages, and you don’t have to be an economist to understand why that is hugely problematic,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “The rental market used to be, and should remain, a stepping stone to homeownership. But given how widespread rental affordability problems have become, the rental market could be acting more like a barrier to buying.”

This article was published by Emily Heffter on Zillow Blog.

 

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Renting

Beware the Bite: How to Avoid Bed Bugs in Your Rental

While no one wants to find pests in their apartment, the possibility of bed bug infestations keeps renters up at night. According to a recent survey by Orkin, 39% of renters said bed bugs are the pests they want to see the least in their homes, outranking all other pests.

How to Avoid Bed Bugs in Your Rental
Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Thinkstock

Bed bugs are a menace on the move. In 2013, Orkin reported a 20% increase in business due to bed bug infestations nationwide. The company also identified the ten U.S. cities with the worst infestations:

  1. Chicago
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Columbus, OH
  4. Detroit
  5. Cincinnati
  6. Cleveland
  7. Dayton, OH
  8. Washington, D.C.
  9. Denver
  10. Indianapolis

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to treat once they make their way into your residence. The pests get into everything (not just your bed) and bite, causing painful welts.

Here’s what you need to know to deal with the growing problem.

Bed Bug Prevention

Many bed bug infestations come from bringing in used furniture where the pests have set up shop. If you live in a city with a known bed bug problem, avoid the temptation to rescue any “found” furniture. Bed bugs are so small you won’t be able to spot them.

However, if you plan to buy a used mattress or furniture, take these precautions:

  • Inspect the underside of the mattress or inside of the sofa for rust-colored stains. These stains are telltale signs of bed bug infestation.
  • Treat any fabrics with a commercial bed bug spray before you bring them into your home.
  • Purchase specialty mattress cases from a pest control manufacturer. Keep the mattress encased for several months to prevent bed bugs from spreading.

Bed bugs can also follow you home in a suitcase. If you’re traveling, these steps can help you reduce your risk:

  • Keep your suitcase away from the bed and off the ground.
  • Hang your clothes in the closet. Bed bugs can live in dressers.
  • Keep your accessories in a sealed plastic bag away from the floor.

Bed Bug Treatment

Treatment can be an expensive and lengthy process. Early detection is key to keeping your costs (and headaches) to a minimum. Develop a weekly or biweekly plan to check for bedbugs in your mattress and other furniture. If you spot a potential problem, tell your landlord immediately.

Bed bugs are resistant to most types of treatments. Over-the-counter bug sprays won’t be enough to end an infestation. You’ll have to hire a professional exterminator to get the job done. If you’re hiring an exterminator, look for companies with bed bug experience and a service guarantee.

Request quotes from different providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Exterminators know the physical and mental pain bed bugs bring, and less-than-honest professionals may attempt to take advantage of your desperation.

Once you’ve hired a pro, keep in mind that heavy infestations may take multiple treatments. You may have to stay away from home for a day or two while the exterminator works.

Working With Your Landlord

Don’t assume your landlord will foot the bill if your apartment becomes infested. In many areas, landlords are not legally required to provide pest control.

Check your lease, and if there’s no pest policy listed, negotiate with your landlord to create one. Ask for the updated policy to be in writing and signed by both you and your landlord.

This article was originally published by Angela Colley on realtor.com. See it here.

Categories
Renting

Keeping Your Landlord Happy: DIY Repairs in a Rental

If you want easy lease renewals, low-to-no annual rent increases and more freedom, you’ll want to make sure your landlord enjoys having you as a tenant.

DIY Repairs in a Rental

How do you make the landlord like you? Well, the key may be to leave them alone and tackle some DIY repairs yourself.

Landlords are busy people. They have other tenants and other demands on their time. When you inundate them with small maintenance requests, you make their job more difficult.

If you become known as a difficult tenant, they’re more likely to up your rent when the time comes. While you don’t want to make every repair yourself, you should limit your requests to necessities.

Here are some quick tips on when to contact your landlord—and when to take on DIY repairs.

Safety Issues: Contact the Landlord

Legally, your landlord has to provide a safe place for you to live. If your rental has any issues putting either your health or safety at risk, you should contact your landlord. Here are some examples of items you shouldn’t try to DIY repair:

  • Broken windows or door locks
  • Light fixtures or ceiling fans that spark or pop when turned on
  • Evidence of burning around light switches
  • Damaged electrical outlets
  • Malfunctioning or broken smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Leaking or broken appliances, cooling and heating systems

You also should ask your landlord to fix these problems as well:

  • Clogged gutters: removing leaves and debris from gutters is time consuming and can be dangerous.
  • Damaged door and window screens: since these will stay with the rental when you move, you should leave them up to your landlord to repair.
  • Roof damage: leaking or damaged roofs require professional repairs.
  • Rodent infestations: rodents can eat through walls and wiring, causing bigger problems later on. Let you landlord know immediately if you spot rodents in your rental.

Cosmetic Issues You Can DIY

Cosmetic issues are tricky. In most states, your landlord isn’t required to make cosmetic repairs, and while many landlords are happy to, you’ll get a bad rep if you contact them about every single blemish.

Try to limit your requests to substantial issues and fix the rest yourself if you’re able.

Here are some examples of DIY repairs you can take care of on your own:

  • Loose cabinet hardware: most drawer pulls and knobs can be tightened with a screwdriver.
  • Stuck drawers: if a drawer is just off track, remove the drawer, line up the tracking and re-install.
  • Liners for cabinets and drawers: hardware stores sell inexpensive, self-sticking liners for cabinets and drawers.

Routine DIY Repairs and Maintenance

Want to be your landlord’s favorite tenant? Then treat your rental like you own it.

The more you’re willing to do small DIY repairs and maintenance yourself, the more your landlord will appreciate having you as a tenant.

Here’s what you should do yourself:

  • Unclog toilets, sinks and bathtubs
  • Replace AC filters
  • Replace smoke detector batteries
  • Clean range hood filters
  • Clean refrigerator coils
  • Replace light bulbs

This article was originally published by  on realtor.com. See the original article here

Categories
Renting

The Rental Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide

Looking for a new rental is a lot like applying for a job.

The Rental Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide

During a job interview you size up the supervisor and the position while the supervisor determines if you’ll be a good fit. When applying for a rental, you try to find out if it’s the right place for you as the landlord or manager sizes up whether you’ll be a good tenant.

Just as you wouldn’t want to go into a job interview without a well-polished resume, you shouldn’t go into a meeting with a landlord and walk-through unprepared. Having a rental resume to give your potential landlord will make a great first impression. Here is everything yours should include:

Objective

Most career resumes begin with a two- to three-sentence opener describing what the job seeker is looking for and what he brings to the table. Your rental resume should also start off with this information. To make your objective great, consider what you’re looking for in a rental, what your long-term plans are and why a landlord should rent to you. For example, a single male might say:

“As a young professional who works most days, I am looking to rent in a quiet neighborhood within commuting distance of my office. I am a responsible and quiet tenant with long-term plans to stay in the immediate area.”

Background

The next section of your rental resume should give your prospective landlord a brief background about you.  Landlords love to know a bit of history about their tenants and presenting all of this information upfront will help the landlord get a good picture of who you are. If you plan to live with friends, family members or pets, include a brief background for them as well. Your background section should have one or two sentences for each person who will live with you. Make sure you include:

  • Ages of everyone who will occupy the house.
  • Any college degrees earned by adults.
  • Job title and job location for any working adults.
  • Income per adult.
  • Breed, age and temperament of pets.

For example, your background may look like:

“Jane Smith, 31, graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in English. She currently works at Texas Instruments as a copywriter. Her annual salary is $40,000. When not working, Jane likes to read, knit or spend weekends camping.”

Rental History

Rental history is a huge factor for landlords in deciding which tenants to approve. If you have been a good tenant in the past, show it off on your rental resume. This section should include a bulleted item or short paragraph for each previous place you have rented, with the name of its landlord, the address of the property, the length of time you lived there and the rent amount. You will also score brownie points if you state why you moved from the property.

For example:

Woodlawn Apartments—Chris Brown, property manager

  • January 2010 to January 2013
  • Rent: $650
  • Reason for leaving: To upgrade to a larger apartment.

References

Many landlords prefer to lease to renters with at least one good prior reference. While you don’t have to include a written statement from each person, having two or more references listed on your rental resume will make things much easier for your landlord. Your supervisor, your previous landlords and even co-workers can serve as references. As long as the person agrees to talk to your landlord, include them on your rental resume. Make sure to include all the information your landlord would need such as:

  • The name of the reference
  • Your relation to the reference
  • The reference’s phone number
  • An email address for your reference

 This article was originally published by Angela Colley on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.

Categories
Renting

What’s Fair Rent? Find Out Your Local Market Rates

Rents across states and cities can differ wildly — even rents from one block to the next. How do you separate the good deals from the overpriced?

What’s Fair Rent- Find Out Your Local Market Rates

Here are a few savvy steps to help you quickly gain a general idea of going rates in the area where you want to rent.

Budget

Market rate doesn’t mean much if you can’t afford it. The standard rent versus salary guidelines recommend paying no more than one-third of your weekly take-home pay for rent, although that could change depending on your debt load, children, retirement savings, or other concerns. Knowing your own rate will help keep market rates in perspective.

More Math

If you earn a good salary for your area, logic would dictate that a rent you can afford will likely be available. In Houston, for example, the average median household income is just under $60,000. Average rent: around $1,300. If you earn well above the median — say, $80,000 — and a landlord or property manager wants to charge well over one-third of your income for rent — maybe $2,500 or more — he’s likely asking too much. Maybe the building has a lot of amenities or unusually large apartments, but just looking at the price should give you pause.

Check the Listings

If you’re new to an area, check the local paper, Craigslist and realtor.com®. The more listings you read, the more sense you will get of local apartment prices. We’re not talking a scientific survey or spreadsheets (though feel free to go that route if you’re so inclined). Just general scans of an area should give you an idea of the range of rental costs.

Talk to Everyone

In a new town for a job interview? Strike up a conversation with a local barista about the hot neighborhood. Ask your potential new co-workers about the area. Many people delight in sharing their knowledge. Even better, duck into a REALTOR®’s office to chat. A good REALTOR® will be honest about the area, and might even be able to direct you to some reputable landlords, rental brokers, or local listings.

HUD Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development publishes fair market rents. These official documents set prices for programs like Section 8 government-sponsored vouchers. The detail and bureaucratic language might add up to more than the average renter cares to read, but if you really want to do your homework, HUD offers another option.

Dig Deeper

If you have a specific building or block you’re interested in, talk to the neighbors to get a sense of neighborhood prices. In a large building, ask the manager about average rents, or see if you can strike up a conversation with a current tenant passing through the lobby. If you’re thinking about renting in a smaller building, or a house or condo, see if you can find other listings for that street and compare costs.

All of these options might seem time-consuming, but the hard work that saves you a few hundred dollars a month adds up to thousands of dollars a year. Understanding the market can help you negotiate a better rent, if you go that route. Plus, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that you didn’t pay too much for your new home in a great new neighborhood.

This article was originally published by Anne Miller on realtor.com. See the original article here.

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Renting

Quick Fixes to Go Green and Save Green

The breeze whispers through the windows into your apartment at night. Problem is, it’s winter, the windows are closed, and since you rent, there’s no way you’re replacing those old casements. Nor is your landlord, for that matter — he’s not concerned because you’re paying the heating bill.

Quick Fixes to Go Green and Save Green

Going green in an apartment for the sake of both the environment and your wallet can be tricky, since not owning usually means not wanting to spend a fortune upgrading something you will leave behind. But with more people seeing green as a housing priority there are more inexpensive, non-permanent options in the marketplace to help you save the planet and some cash.

Stay Airtight

Seal the windows with plastic sheeting to keep the cold at bay. Place door warmers along the spaces where the door doesn’t quite meet the floor. Buy tight-fitting curtains to keep even more air out. Close the curtains at night to keep heat in, but open them during the day to let the warm sunshine in. In summer, make sure to clean or replace your air-conditioning filters. If you have a window unit, shade the machine. You might consider keeping the sheeting on if your windows are so drafty they’ll let expensive cool air out.

Power Down

Buy a few cheap lamp timers. For renters who work long hours but like to keep lights on for pets or to ward off potential intruders, timers can shave serious dollars off the electric bill. Upgrade old, energy-draining lightbulbs and lamps. There is a plethora of energy-saving lightbulb options these days.  The Natural Resources Defense Council has a chart that explains the main differences among the bulbs, including their cost efficiencies. Renter math might differ, though. Is it worth buying a 23-year bulb if you know you’ll likely move again in three years and have to pack it? You’ll have to figure that out for yourself.

Limit Electronics and Appliances

So-called “vampire gadgets” suck energy even when they’re turned off, such as computers and DVRs. Unplug them when they’re not in use, or plug them into a  surge protector so you can easily turn them all off with the one switch. If you have to buy any new electronics, such as a new TV, look for Energy Star labels. While it’s not a pleasant chore, cleaning your refrigerator’s coils and regularly defrosting the freezer will keep your unit’s power use down. Also, run dishwashers and washing machines at full capacity during off-peak hours when utilities often charge less.

Get Water Wise

If you have an old shower head, replace it with a low-flow model to reduce your water usage. If that’s not possible, take tub baths where you can better monitor the amount you use. You can also rig your toilet to flush less water by placing a partially weighted jug, such as a plastic milk container filled with water, in the tank. If you have outdoor space, consider purchasing plants that use little water.

Recycle More

If you want to save the Earth without spending money, take a few extra minutes to recycle. You can clear out valuable space in the process. Recycling isn’t just for cans and bottles anymore. Nonprofits and government agencies often stage local collection events for batteries, small electronics and pharmaceuticals to keep them from becoming a danger in landfills or sewers. Some areas collect textiles, so you can recycle old sheets, tablecloths or clothes too ratty to donate.

Request an Audit

Many state and local agencies offer free energy audits in which experts make a home visit to see how you can lower your energy usage. Some programs offer freebies like free low-energy bulbs and free low-flow showerheads. Others might wrap a building’s water heater — maybe not a big deal to the renter, but most landlords probably won’t mind something that saves them money with zero investment.  Rules differ by jurisdiction, and there can be wait lists, but it doesn’t cost anything to ask — and it may just save you and your landlord some cash.

This article was originally published by  on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.

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Renting

How to Avoid Housing Rental Scams

For most of us, the largest chunk of our income goes to paying for a roof over our heads. Whether you are renting or buying, you want to make sure you aren’t being taken advantage of. If you are a renter, there are some popular scams you need to watch out for.

How to Avoid Housing Rental Scams

Situations to Avoid

Illegal subleases are actually fairly common, especially in urban areas with a shortage of rental properties, like New York. A sublease is when you lease an apartment from a renter. An illegal sublease is when this isn’t allowed and is done anyway. Tenants of illegal subleases can be evicted or fined.

You also want to watch out for people who pose as legitimate landlords or agents and demand money before you sign a lease. They take the money, and you still don’t have a rental. Legitimate landlords and rental agents do not ask for security deposits before a lease is ready to be signed.

There have been reports of a rental scam similar to those “Nigerian Prince” email scams. These thieves claim to live abroad and own property in the United States. They request money to be sent or wired to them.

Identity thieves pretend to be landlords or rental agents with the goal of stealing your identity. You do not need to give your Social Security number to simply look at an apartment. Becoming an identity theft victim can do major damage to your credit.

How to Spot a Scam

Often scammers give signs in the very first contact that they are not to be trusted. Pay attention to clues and proceed with caution. When communicating with potential landlords via email (in response to Craigslist ads or other real estate classified ads) watch out for generic greetings to Sir or Madam.

Also be wary of emails full of misspellings — these communications are business dealings and should be professional. Sometimes you may need to rent a home without seeing it (if, for example, you are being relocated for work on a short time frame) but avoid dealing with people who pressure you to sign without seeing a home before you provide money.

Take Action

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. In places like New York, where real estate goes quickly, you may feel pressured to act fast, but this is a big decision. If you feel unnecessary stress from one party, consider it a red flag.

Do research — check property records to see who actually owns the building you are thinking of moving into. Check to see if this information matches what you are being provided. If it’s not, ask why. Maybe there’s a logical explanation or maybe you are saving yourself from being scammed.

Try not to be too enthusiastic. If you appear too eager, you open yourself up to not getting the best deal for your money.

Along those lines, be wary of anyone who says you don’t need to sign a lease. A lease offers legal protection to you and the landlord for this business transaction.

Choosing a home isn’t easy. Don’t let your emotions cloud the fact that this is ultimately a business decision. You are paying for something and want to make sure you get what you pay for.

This article was taken from realtor.com. It was written by AJ Smith and originally published on Credit.com. See the original article here.

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Renting

Can Paying Rent Boost Your Credit Score?

Homeowners can wreck or raise their credit depending on how well they manage their mortgage, but what about renters?

Can Paying Rent Boost Your Credit Score

Not so long ago, renters only faced credit problems for serious rental offenses and paying their rent on time didn’t help their credit scores, but that has changed in recent years. Now, renters have more to look out for when it comes to their credit histories.

Breaking the Lease

When you sign a lease you’re agreeing to pay the rent in full each month through the remainder of the lease. If you move out early and skip out on the rest of the rent payments, it could come back to haunt you.

“Property managers may send unpaid rent amounts to a collection agency, which then reports the unpaid debt to a credit reporting company,” said Emily Christiansen, director for Experian RentBureau.  Once the collection appears on your credit history, it will stay there for seven years and you’ll see a drop in your credit score.

You could also face a lawsuit if you skip out on the lease or cause large damages to your rental, which could impact your credit score. Once your former landlord files a civil suit against you it becomes a public record, which is included in your credit history.

Rent Payments

In the past, paying your rent on time and staying on your lease helped you build a good reputation with landlords but did little to improve your credit score. Experian, one of the big three credit bureaus, changed that for many renters in 2010 when it started recording positive rental history through Experian RentBureau.

“The positive rental history is included as part of the standard Experian credit report and may be incorporated into certain credit scores, such as VantageScore and Experian’s PLUS Score,” Christiansen said.

Unfortunately, just being a renter doesn’t necessarily mean you’re building a credit history. Currently, Experian RentBureau is the only major credit bureau reporting rent payments and landlords have to be signed up with a rental payment service working with Experian RentBureau. If your landlord or property manager company isn’t currently with the program, you’ll likely only see an effect to your credit history if you break a lease or get involved in a civil suit with your landlord.

Boosting Your Credit Score

However, you might be able to improve your credit score on your own.

“Experian does not add late rent payments to credit reports,” Christiansen said. “Only positive, paid-as-agreed rental payments are added to the Experian credit report.” So having your timely rental payments reported could boost your Experian credit score.

To do so, start by ordering a rental history report through Experian RentBureau to see if your landlord is already reporting your payments. If not, you can sign up with an electronic rent payment program working with Experian, or ask your landlord to participate.

Currently, Experian RentBureau partners with the rental payment services WilliamPaid and ClearNow. Once you or your landlord is signed up with Experian RentBureau through one of these payment services, you’ll need to opt-in to start having your rental payments reported. From there, just pay your rent on time, stick to your lease, and you’re well on your way to building your credit reports.

Article originally published by Angela Colley on realtor.com. To see the article source, click here.

 

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Renting

10 Energy (And Money!) Saving Tips For Renters

Not every apartment, condo or townhouse rental includes free utilities, so for many renters, it is important to use energy efficiently. Reducing energy consumption saving money, and by adopting a few efficient practices in your apartment, you can keep your money where you want it: your wallet.

10 Energy (And Money!) Saving Tips For RentersThis utilities advice will guide you on best practices and other energy-efficient methods aimed at saving you money. Most of these tips are things renters can do on their own. However, if you have questions or need help, don’t be afraid to reach out to your apartment manager or landlord.

1) Low-Flow Showerhead
Temper your hot water usage and the amount of water you use by installing an energy-efficient low-flow showerhead in your shower. If you can’t install one yourself, talk to your landlord or apartment manager about having one installed.

2) Water Collection
When you run your faucet or shower until cold or hot water comes out, you are essentially wasting a good deal of water and sending money down the drain. Consider using a bucket or pitcher to collect water until the desired hot or cold temperature is achieved. You can then use that collected water to manually flush a toilet, water plants or wash things around the house.

3) Full Loads
Instead of washing a handful of clothing at a time, save energy and money by washing full loads. This can also be applied to using a dishwasher. More loads equates to more energy spent and money out of your pocket.

4) Window Covers and Solar Shades
Keep windows that receive direct sunlight throughout the day covered to keep the inside of your apartment cooler throughout the day. In desert climates such as Arizona, consider having solar shades installed to deflect sunlight.

5) Air Circulation
Open your windows to promote cross-circulation in the mornings and when there is a breeze. This can help keep temperature down throughout the day and, in turn, lower A/C usage.

6) Furniture Obstruction
If your couch is positioned over your air vent, it reduces the amount of air flow, which means your A/C or furnace is working that much harder. By positioning your furniture to promote airflow, your apartment will heat and cool faster, thus saving you money on your electric or gas bill.

7) Thermostat Setting
Consider turning off the thermostat or adjusting it for when you are not home. You can save energy and money by only running you A/C or furnace when you are home.

8) Timers
Leaving the lights on all day long can be a big energy drain. Instead of leaving the lights on, buy timers to program a custom light schedule for throughout the day.

9) Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Compact fluorescent light bulbs use far less energy and last far longer than traditional light bulbs, and they are relatively cheap! Swap out your standard bulbs for fluorescent ones to reduce energy costs.

10) Unplug Appliances and Electronics
Even if they are not on, appliances and electronics still draw electricity when plugged in. Consider unplugging seldom-used appliances and electronics when not in use. You can also buy a power strip to control multiple electronics and appliances at the same time.

This article was originally published by Neal J. Leitereg on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.