Author Topic: Insulating a rental  (Read 10039 times)


  • Handlebar Stache
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Insulating a rental
« on: September 02, 2013, 01:26:31 PM »
Even though it's still blazing right now, the fact that it's suddenly September is reminding me that winter weather isn't too far away, and that heating bills are coming.

I rent a 2+tiny bedroom house with a roommate for just over $800/mo. It's a good little old house; the problem is it's pretty poorly insulated and our electric shoots up by $50/mo in winter even if we're just keeping it at the 60 deg or so required by the lease to protect the pipes. We usually keep it a tad warmer; wearing shorts in winter is ridiculous, but I'm not willing to bundle up in more than pants+long sleeve+sweatshirt+warm socks.  So it's at maybe 65 or so, and cooler in rooms with more exterior walls (bedrooms).

Some of my biggest concerns are that three rooms are heated but clearly pretty poorly insulated (tiny bedroom used as office/storage, laundry room, and bathroom), and our enclosed porch is unheated&uninsulated but has an indoor door leading to it with giant cracks around the edge.

So, question: what non-invasive procedures would you recommend to improve this situation? I could also talk to the landlord about minor improvements.


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Re: Insulating a rental
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2013, 01:58:19 PM »
Here's a few ideas.

Sleep with a hot water bottle.

Run your ceiling fans.  Switch the direction the fan blades spin (most have a switch for this) to circulate the warm air around.

Insulate your hot water heater.  Dropping the temperature on it and wrapping it in a blanket for insulation can save you money but keep the water just as hot.

Insulate your windows with bubble wrap. Link 1. Link 2.

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  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Insulating a rental
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2013, 06:45:56 PM »
Some landlords would be into checking with the utility to see if they offer any energy-conservation 100% discounts on insulation.  Usually just ceilings (attic) and crawlspace but it would help if the insulation there is thin.

That said, that amount of increase isn't that bad.  Consider it also covers increased lighting as winter is also darker in general.

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  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Insulating a rental
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2013, 07:27:41 PM »
Weatherstrip the door to the enclosed porch.  That will stop the cold air from flowing in to the heated space.  If you feel cold air coming in around the electrical outlets on the exterior walls, buy and install some of the inexpensive foam outlet insulators.  Seal the windows that you won't use with home made interior storm windows.  The canned spray foam insulation goes on sale in the fall.  Seal gaps you can reach but are not visible, like behind pipes and baseboards.  Caulk, also cheap, where appropriate.  Buy an oil-filled radiator style space heater on wheels and use it strategically.

Do call the utility company and then approach your landlord with anything they suggest that is free or very inexpensive.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Insulating a rental
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2013, 10:54:08 PM »
So many good ideas! Thanks!


  • Stubble
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Re: Insulating a rental
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2013, 02:02:08 PM »
Weatherize your windows! It's easy, cheap and makes a huge difference. Not only will you spend less on electric but you'll be more comfortable for the money. Weatherstripping around that leaky door will be key, too.

And space heaters are great, especially at night - so you can keep the house heat set to 60 degrees and then heat only your bedrooms to a more comfortable temperature.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Insulating a rental
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2013, 02:33:34 PM »
For $50 / mo on a rental I wouldn't be doing too much. Big, cheap gains - before I replaced windows I put plastic over the windows. I think there are kits that let you "shrink wrap" the windows, but I used cheap (like, $1) kits that use tacking strips you have to nail in. Really stops the airflow if that's an issue but of course does nothing for actually insulating.

Cheap weatherstripping for the doors is a big one too.

Might try closing the vents on the rooms you don't use or aren't essential to heat. That's what we do with several rooms and makes a big difference.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Insulating a rental
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2013, 06:47:32 PM »
For years I had old leaky metal windows in my house,,,
Every fall I would put up plastic on the inside on my windows.
Then at night I would put up 1" "pink board" (pretty cheap)
We cut it to fit, then glued fabric to both sides,,,
It made an amazing difference,,,
And it didn't cost a lot.
Is is kind of a hassle to put it up and down all of the time,,,
Plus you need to store them someplace.