10 Tips to Save on Heating Costs in Your Apartment

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Your home should be a warm, safe shelter from the sometimes inhospitable world outside your windows. That’s true whether you own your home or rent it. As a renter, you have the same goals and needs as a home owner, but you may have unique strategies to overcome challenges.

It is important to know your rights as well as your options for keeping your home comfortable in cold weather conditions.

If your apartment or other rental unit is not warm enough, your first move is to alert your landlord. There are laws and policies – different from state to state – defining a landlord’s obligation. Those include maintaining equipment and access to the necessary fuel to keep your living space livable.

Start by notifying your landlord of any problems. If there is not a satisfactory response, consider options such as filing a complaint or even withholding rent.

If your home is being properly heated but still gets chilly in the winter, there are smart, simple strategies for staying warm without spending a fortune. The same ideas can help you save on utility bills if they are separate from your monthly rent.

1. Seal Windows and Doors to Prevent Heat Loss

Start by putting your hand on your window. If it feels cold (and it almost certainly does if the temperature outside is cold), that means cold is radiating into your home. Run your fingers around the edges of the windows and the sills or trim. Cold air gets in that way, too.

Up to 30% of your total energy use (and cost) is explained by these easily sealed gaps in your defenses. Many of the fixes for such problems are simple and readily available at hardware or home improvement stores: look for window insulation kits or magnetic insulation products.

Weather stripping, for example, can seal your windows and borders. So can caulk along the window and door sills and the trim around the openings. A rug or floormat in front of any outside-facing doors can keep cold air from slithering in under the door itself. A door sweep can do the same job for under $10. The Department of Energy has information that can help with this process.

Thick curtains or shades can prevent cold air from coming in through the windows, especially at night. During the daytime, if the sun is on your window, it may actually add warmth. Use your judgment on whether to let the sun help warm your apartment or home.

2. Use a Smart Thermostat

Your landlord will have a say in this and may even provide an updated thermostat to help control room temperatures in your dwelling. After all, the landlord has an interest in heating the property effectively and economically.

If you are able to remember to set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the morning and then back to a lower temperature at bedtime, when you’ll be under the covers, then great. You’re ahead of the game.

A smart thermostat remembers to do all that for you, though sometimes with more complicated instructions. If your apartment is empty during the day, a smart thermostat can lower the temperature, then bring it up by the time you get home.

Simple programming can save you time, money, and energy – both heating energy and the energy required to run out to the thermostat in the middle of the night.

3. Maximize Insulation with Rugs and Curtains

Not all home projects have to be chores. It can be fun to decorate your space in ways that help keep it warm and attractive. A large area rug can brighten the space while giving your bare feet a warm surface to walk on. In older rental units, gaps in hardwood or other floors can allow cold to seep in. A rug can close off those gaps.

Thick, thermal curtains can do the same double duty for your windows. They can look good while also insulating areas vulnerable to the cold.

4. Furniture Layout: Ensure Proper Airflow

Learn about your environment. Look for heating vents or baseboard heating units. Make sure they are not blocked by furniture, televisions, rugs, or anything movable. It’s easy to arrange furniture in the spring and summer without noticing where the heat comes from. But the toasty backside of a sofa doesn’t warm the room or help with efficiency.

5. Lower Water Heater Temperature to Save More

We all like a hot shower or warm bath, but you may find you’re just as comfortable with a lower setting on your water heater. Try adjusting the setting to 100 degrees and then tweaking based on your results. The water heater is likely in a utility closet or other out-of-the-way location. If necessary, you can ask your landlord for access to it or help adjusting it.

6. Utilize Sunlight for Natural Warmth

Solar power is becoming a more efficient means of providing heat and electricity. But you don’t need panels to use the sun’s natural warmth to your advantage. Letting the sun pour through your windows can warm up your apartment and bring heat to your floors and other surfaces. Many window treatments allow the sun to perform its free service. Bonus: Light! Natural lighting can allow you to turn off some of those electric lights.

7. Dress Appropriately for the Season Inside

It may help to read this aloud in a parent’s voice. From slippers or warm socks up to a sweater or sweatshirt, you can stay warm and cozy at a lower temperature. If you’re wearing shorts and a T-shirt around the house, that may explain why you get a chill. Your mother knows best.

And don’t forget blankets at night. Your own body heat is a valuable resource. Don’t waste it.

8. Regular HVAC Maintenance for Efficiency

If you’re renting, it is your landlord’s responsibility to maintain important equipment like furnaces or HVAC units. It is also in the landlord’s interest to do routine maintenance to avoid expensive repairs or inefficient operation. A little nudge may be in order. Remind the landlord to have HVAC units inspected and maintained, or filters changed on furnaces.

One suggestion: Make such requests in the summer or autumn. Preparation for the winter beats dealing with emergencies in brutal weather conditions.

9. Use Space Heaters Wisely for Targeted Heating

Check with your landlord or apartment manager to be sure space heaters are allowed in your apartment. If they are, adhere to any limitations about size, power source, etc.

If allowed and used properly, a space heater can help keep a bedroom or other room cozy without having to heat the entire apartment. Keep the heater away from anything flammable, like furniture, bedclothes or loose items. Never use an extension cord for a space heater.

10. Humidify Your Space for Added Warmth

Winter air can dry out your skin and chill your living quarters. A humidifier can keep a room feeling warmer, moisturize your skin and help keep your airways clear for better breathing. Investing in a unit for each bedroom can pay off with increased comfort and lowered heating costs.

Proactive Measures for Winter Preparedness

It’s hard to think about your heating system while you’re relaxing by the pool or enjoying the air conditioning. But it’s worth your time to plan for winter by scheduling inspections for HVAC systems or furnaces. That may mean asking your landlord to take the lead.

But you’d be doing the landlord and yourself a favor. Maintenance is cheaper, easier, and can be done at a convenient time. Emergency repairs usually mean inconvenience, cold nights waiting for a technician, and expensive solutions.

More Ways To Save on Utility Costs

In winter, when heating costs are highest, it’s a good idea to save money on other utilities. Come to think of it, it is never a bad idea to save money wherever you can.

Lowering your gas bill can help all year. Aside from heat, gas can be used in cooking or running a gas clothes dryer. Adapting cost-lowering strategies is just good common sense.

It also makes sense to lower your electric bill, whether or not it’s your source for heating your home. Just about everything in our homes runs on electricity.

About The Author

Phil Sheridan

Phil Sheridan writes about managing personal debt for InCharge. He spent over 30 years learning about labor negotiations, salary caps, stadium negotiations and a lot of other finance-related matters as a reporter and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and ESPN. Phil will use those experiences to make readers more comfortable about their own financial situation.


  1. N.A. (ND) I Don’t Have Heat! Retrieved from https://phillytenant.org/no-heat/
  2. Hodder, C. (2023, January 12) Landlord Won’t Fix the Heat? Three Legal Options. Retrieved from https://www.findlaw.com/legalblogs/law-and-life/no-heat-what-are-your-legal-options/