October 25, 2019 Tenant Advice

How Chicago Apartment Renters Can Save Money on Heating Bills During Winter

Cooler temperatures are making their way to Chicago these days and apartment renters are bound to wonder, “how can I keep my apartment toasty warm without paying a fortune for my utility bill?” In Chicago apartments, maintaining a comfortable temperature in the apartment without paying steep utility bills may require a balancing act. After all, this town has been known to experience its fair share of days where the temperature dips well below freezing. This post provides three simple steps for Chicago renters who want to keep the heating bill manageable against even the toughest Chicago winters:

  • Get heating cost estimates from landlords or directly from the utility company.
  • Budget and plan accordingly when the heating bill adds to monthly expenses.
  • Use DIY kits and other adjustments to keep apartment heating costs low in winter.

The landlord or property manager is usually the party responsible for providing heat to apartment. Landlords need to make sure heating equipment can maintain a minimum temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 66 degrees Fahrenheit overnight. But that doesn’t mean that heat is free; renters should always carefully review the terms of the apartment lease agreement to find out who’s responsible for paying the heating bill during the colder months. If the renter has to pay the utility company, then it’s important to keep the bill collectors at bay and make sure the utility company doesn’t interrupt service for non-payment. 

How to Get Monthly Heating Cost Estimates for Chicago Apartments

If renters need to know how much their heating bill is expected to cost each month, then they should make sure to get the heating cost estimate from their landlords at the beginning of the lease. Chicago landlords are required to provide a heating cost estimate for the apartment. If renters didn’t receive this estimate with their other disclosures when they signed the apartment lease, then contacting the utility company directly for an estimate of their monthly heating costs is the best course of action.

Make a Plan When Heating Costs Contribute to Monthly Expenses

If you’re a renter who doesn’t use a monthly budgeting tool then it’s never too late to start. The added costs of heating the apartment may be the perfect catalyst to get into this good habit of budgeting all the expenses for a month of renting an apartment in Chicago. Use the provided estimate of monthly heating costs and create both a high-level prediction based on previous winters and a lower prediction. Make your monthly budget include a figure that’s in between the high-end and low-end estimates of the monthly heating bill from October until April. 

DIY Weatherproofing Kits & Other Tips to Control Apartment Heating Costs

One of the Chicago apartment renter’s best friends is the affordable window sealing kit sold at most hardware stores. This small kit typically includes a roll of plastic film and some adhesive strips. The only other tool required is an electric hair dryer -- and this is something that many apartment renters already have around the house. Follow the instructions provided with the kit and seal any large windows prior to the arrival of frost. It’s a good idea to get windows sealed before holiday decorations go up because once that plastic film covers the window, it may be difficult to remove anything that’s stuck on the glass or hung along the edges of the window. 

Another simple cost-saving measure that apartment renters can use is the ceiling fan. Setting the fans to spin clockwise at a low speed will recirculate warm air. This is a subtle and easy method to avoid cranking up the heat and maintain a comfortable temperature in the apartment.

And one last place to look for some added savings on the heating bill are energy efficient window curtains. Many large homeware stores and online shops provide a cost-effective window treatment that checks two important boxes by providing privacy and preventing heat from leaching through windows.

Things to Avoid While Heating Your Chicago Apartment

Domu advises renters avoid relying on space heaters to heat up their apartments during winter. These appliances might seem like the ideal solution for a drafty area or cool spot in the home, but they’re deceptively dangerous. Billions of dollars in home fire damage and numerous deaths can be linked to malfunctioning or improperly used space heaters every winter, meaning they’re more trouble than they’re worth. Space heaters cause two out of every five heating-related fires in apartments and homes each year according to the National Fire Protection Association. 

Another crucial tip: Don’t use the oven to heat up your apartment! This will only increase the risk of fire and asphyxiation while actually costing renters MORE money. The oven, like most large appliances, uses electricity and/or gas. Running it as an impromptu space heater will consume energy and thus lead to higher electric or gas bills along with it. Bad idea. Just don’t do it.