Cheap Tricks for Warm Apartments: Ten ways to Increase comfort and save energy in your rental this winter

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As we head into the chilly months, creating a warm, cozy abode while keeping heating costs down is a common dilemma, and you don't have to own your home to qualify for solutions. Heating is the single biggest energy expenditure during winter, and renters can make several easy improvements that'll keep both the warmth and their precious dollars from exiting the apartment. Even if you're not responsible for your unit's utility bill, here are ten

As we head into the chilly months, creating a warm, cozy abode while keeping heating costs down is a common dilemma, and you don't have to own your home to qualify for solutions.

Heating is the single biggest energy expenditure during winter, and renters can make several easy improvements that'll keep both the warmth and their precious dollars from exiting the apartment. Even if you're not responsible for your unit's utility bill, here are ten earth-friendly investments that can yield great comfort in the season to come.

If your apartment's heating system and rental agreement permit, have a programmable thermostat installed. This'll allow you to set up a comfortable heating routine as you pocket up to $150 a year in energy savings. Just set the thermostat to kick back by a maximum of 10 degrees overnight, warm your apartment again about an hour before you wake, and then scoot temperatures down while you're away during the day.

Make sure that all heating registers are unobstructed by furnishings and window coverings so that warm air can flow freely into the room. If your unit has radiators, slide heat-resistant reflectors between them and the walls to send even more warmth into a room.

Make the most of passive solar energy by opening curtains and blinds during the day on east-, south- and west-facing windows to let the sunshine in. As the sun goes down, close them again to keep heat in and cold out.

Seal possible air escapes around windows and doors with a removable caulking product like DAP Seal 'N' Peel. It'll provide a weatherproof barrier against drafts and moisture when applied indoors or out, and can be removed easily without damaging painted surfaces.

Add weatherstripping to doors, windows, and, if you have one in your apartment, the attic hatchway - an often-ignored exit for warm air. Shop your local home improvement center or hardware store for a variety of easy-to-use weatherstripping products tailored to different surfaces and constructions.

Keep storm windows tightly closed, and if you don't have storms, consider applying plastic window film to standard panes. This simple yet high-tech addition will reflect heat back into a room during cold months, and help keep summertime warmth outdoors.

Turn off heating units in rooms that aren't being used, and shut the rooms' doors to keep warm air moving exclusively in occupied areas.

Install covers on window and through-the-wall air conditioners to block winter drafts.

Interior air that's too dry can make it hard to get warm, so bring in a humidifier for added comfort. Maintaining your home's relative humidity between 20 and 40 percent will not only make things feel cozier, it'll also allow you to set your thermostat at a lower level overall.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, close the damper when it's not in use.

Got an apartment that's too warm? Don't just resort to opening a window. Instead, work with your property manager to solve the problem, as it may signal an issue with your unit's heating system.

Note:Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show's podcast or sign-up for Tom's free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program's website.

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