One of the perks of owning your own house or condo is that you have the authority to make the place more energy efficient. As a tenant, you are stuck with what you rented. Right? Wrong! There are things you can do to reduce your heating bills that don’t have to stay in the rental when you go.

winter windWhen I rented, the trend was to use plastic sheeting over the inefficient, drafty windows. Every fall, we’d tape up the windows. Every spring, we’d take it all down, throw it away, and touch up the paint where the tape damaged it. As time went on, better ways to do the same thing came on the market; these had two-sided tape and plastic film that could be shrunk to fit tight by using a hair dryer. That looked better, but was more expensive. I always wondered if we saved more than the price of all that plastic (about $30.) I always regretted all that plastic that we used for a couple of months.

A much better tactic for the same problem – drafty windows – is insulated curtains. insulated curtainsThese have the added benefit of being decorative, reusable, and portable. The curtains you buy for your rental can be used in your purchased house or condo. Adding insulated curtains to any window will reduce heat transfer in the winter. The best practice is to close the windows at night and open then in the daytime. They also reduce air conditioning costs if you close them when it is hot and sunny.

This year, I ran into this nifty idea. You can make a very cheap space heater for rooms that are chronically cold. (This idea came from someone who used it on his boat.) Use two terra cotta flower pots and some tea light candles to create a radiator for about fifteen cents a day. If you have a cold room or a drafty corner, this could be worth a try. terracotta heater