Resident Tips

resident tips and tools

These are low to no-cost tips that can improve your living environment and enhance the energy and water efficiency of your homes. If these are the things you cannot change on your own, share the tips with the landlords and encourage practices that help you make a change for the better.  


Seal entryways

Save energy by properly sealing your home against air leaks under sill plates, around windows, doors, framing members, and electric, plumbing and mechanical penetrations. Use appropriate weatherstripping and caulking for doors and windows.

$55 Solution for weatherstripping.

$105 Solution for caulking exteriors.

Insulate porch roof

Install insulation in the exterior wall cavities without misalignments, compressions, gaps, or voids. If you are a renter, encourage your homeowner to run regular maintenance of the gaps between exterior and interior rooms of your home.

$350-$400 Solution

Switch to energy-efficient bulbs.

Switch to LED light bulbs that are Energy Star certified, that use 20-25% less energy than traditional bulbs, and last up to 25 times longer too. Switching to motion sensor light bulbs is an even better option, this way you won’t have to use power to keep your lights on all night.

$0 Solution

Paint with solar-reflective paints

If you are repainting your porch, it is a great idea to repaint it with solar reflective paints. These paints absorb the heat so that the porch does not get so hot, and the inside of your home stays cool too. This can help cut back on the energy required to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home.

$0 Solution


Keep the door closed

The hot or cool air from inside your home will escape while the door is open, meaning your heating and cooling system will have to work overtime to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home.

$0 Solution

Add screens to mitigate heat

Screened porch not only makes your outdoor living more usable and bugs-free, but they also add value to your home and has tremendous health and lifestyle benefits. Screened porches allow the occupants to spend more time outdoors where they can soak up fresh air and sunlight.

$2 – $20/sft Solution

Shade the porch

Consider planting a tree or a tall shrub in front of your porch that is exposed to direct sunlight. This will cool the porch and prevent stifling air from making its way into your home.

Living Room

Keep lamps and other heat-producing appliances away from your thermostat

Having heat-producing appliances near your thermostat will tell it that the air in your home needs to be cooled more, causing the system to run longer and work harder than it may need to.  

$0 Solution

Monitor your thermostat throughout the year 

In the summer months, maintain the air-conditioned house at 78° or higher. 

In the winter months, set your thermostat as low are possible.  

$0 Solution

Switch to LED Lights 

Install LED Lights instead of CFL or incandescent for a longer lifespan and energy savings. 

$5-10 Solution

Low-cost lighting control measures  

Low-cost measures can reduce lighting costs significantly. Turn off lights when not in use and use dimmer switches for lighting control.  

$25-30 Solution

Vacuum indoor vents and keep vents unblocked 

Ensure the area around the vents is clear of furniture or other household items. Close to 25% more energy is required if your vents are blocked. 

$0 Solution

Using natural light  

Open your blinds in your building to let in natural light from the sun. This will allow you to save electricity and power on your lights.  

$0 Solution

Use benefits from natural ventilation

If you open your windows, you not only let in light but also a nice breeze. This way you can conserve energy by not keeping your AC unit on for 24 hours. Having windows open on two sides can create cross ventilation and keep the rooms cool.

$0 Solution

Pick your paint color 

If you are repainting your living room, consider lighter-colored paints to brighten the space without electric lights. 

$500-750 Solution

Switch to ceiling fan  

When not in the room, switch off the fans as fans are intended to cool people and not the air in the room. Ceiling fans don’t save energy if you run them without changing your AC usage.

Look for efficient fixtures if you are adding a new one. Energy Star labeled models have efficient motors and controls, with a 30-year motor warranty and efficient movement of air. If your fan has a reverse mode, utilize this feature as this creates an updraft that distributes warm air near the ceiling into the living areas.  

$0 Solution

Use a smart thermostat 

The energy use information collected by your smart meter can show you how your home is using electricity and help you manage your energy costs. You can avail many rebates on the smart meters from GA power and have it installed to control energy use.  

$100- $150 Solution 

Use devices that are compatible with your heating and cooling systems

Use a power strip 

Plug devices into a power strip and turn the entire strip off when the devices are not in use. This will cut off the supply of electricity and prevent the devices from continuing to consume energy when they are not being used.  

$0 Solution

Improve the efficiency of your fireplace  

  • Keep the fireplace dampers closed when not in use. Open dampers can cause drafts and lead to loss of heat in the rest of the house when the fireplace is not in use. Make sure to remember and open it when you start a fire.   
  • Check and air seal around your fireplace flue damper to prevent heat loss.  
  • Have your chimney maintained annually using experts from Chimney Safety Institute of America. This can prevent fire hazards and makes sure that the chimney is functioning efficiently and safely.  
  • Have a fire alarm at the entry level of your house and keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • If you don’t use your fireplace, consult an expert to have the chimney flue plugged and sealed.  

$0 Solution for self-maintenance and use this link to learn about the cost of a professional inspection.  

Know different parts of a fireplace


Test your dishwasher 

Scrap excess food into the trash before placing it into the dishwasher and run on a lower/gentler cycle. If your dishes still come out clean, continue using a gentler setting with less water. 

$0 solution

Check the temperature of your refrigerator 

Set your refrigerator to between 36 and 38°F and freezer between 0 and 5°F. This will keep your food at the right temperature and avoid wasted energy on over-cooling your refrigerator.

$0 solution

Inspect your kitchen sink regularly

Check under your kitchen sink for dripping water from your faucet. Dripping water can cause mildew in the cabinets and on your personal items. If there is excess water, wipe the pipes with a dry paper towel to locate the leak and seal the leak by tightening the pipe connector or caulk. 

$0-10 Solution 

Always close your refrigerator door 

By leaving your appliances open, you let out the cold air that has been stored while they have been running on electricity. Once the cold air is exposed to the air temperature around the house, you know only expose your cool food to the warmth, but also waste essential energy.  Set your fridge to power-saving mode if your fridge has the feature.

$0 Solution 

Wash full loads of dishes in the dishwasher 

Refrain from washing a small load of dishes. It is best to store many dishes in your washer in order to preserve water. If you have a small number of dishes, like a plate or two and a couple of utensils, wash them by hand. 

$0 Solution 

Install leak detector to prevent mold growth  

Leak detectors under the sink help prevent mold. Mold remediation can cost upwards of $10,000 in severe cases and this feature can save thousands of dollars if addressed within 24-48 hours.

$8-$20 Solution 

Use windows for advantage 

A kitchen can be a contributor of useful and discomfort heat. During summer months, ensure proper ventilation by opening windows and using fans, during colder months keep windows and doors closed to keep the heat in.

$0 Solution 

Avoid carpeting in high-moisture areas 

Atlanta’s average relative humidity is 68% which is greater than the humidity levels that are considered comfort levels- 30%-50%. If your home does not have a dehumidifier, avoid having carpeted flooring in kitchens.  

$0 Solution 


Get battery-powered devices 

If you are purchasing a clock or other device for the bedroom, consider getting a battery-powered device and avoid plugged-in devices.  

Don’t place furniture over air vents 

When placing your furniture in your bedroom, don’t cover any floor vents located near the bass boards. Beds, dressers, and other large pieces of furniture can block the airflow into the room and cause your air conditioning unit to work harder than needed. 

$0 Solution

Use your blinds  

During cooling months, block the direct solar heat by keeping curtains/blinds closed during the day, especially the windows facing east and west.  

$0 Solution

Control window screens

Opening the curtains during winter will allow even the smallest amount of sunlight to come through and naturally warm your home. 

$0 Solution

Limit space heater use  

Be careful about your energy bills while using electric or gas-powered space heaters. For a small space, consider purchasing smaller units and making sure the model is energy efficient. 

$20-$150 Solution 

Control window operation based on weather

Open the windows in the afternoon and evening to let cooler air into the house. If you can leave the windows open at night as well, the cool air will reduce the amount of air conditioning needed to keep the house at a comfortable temperature. 

$0 Solution  

Install smart thermostat  

Consider getting a smart thermostat installed in your home. Smart thermostats can help with this issue, as these thermostats come with sensors that keep track and monitor the temperatures throughout the home, making it easier to manage and adjust the setting when needed. 

$0-$30 solution 

Adjust thermostat 

If you open and close your windows throughout the day and if you have a thermostat in your bedroom, adjust the temperature so energy is not being wasted. 

$0 Solution 

Use dimmer switches

If you are opposed to opening and closing your blinds, and if you have dimmer switches then use these electrical appliances instead of traditional light switches.  

$25-$30 Solution 

Roofing and attic

Do a pre-assessment  

If you experience major issues with the roof or attic, seek professional advice and do not use the attic space. Call for immediate action:


  1. If the house has roof leaks; 
  2. If any mold is observed;  
  3. If signs of pest-related activity or damage are observed; 
  4. If the structural integrity of framing is not adequate and/or shows signs of rot or decay; 
  5. If the house attic has active knob and tube wiring;
  6. Other issues.

$0 Solution

Adopt cool roofing materials

Are you or the homeowner replacing your roof? Then suggest cool roofing materials. Cool roofs are designed to reflect more sunlight than conventional shingle roofs. This lowers the temperature of the building, just like how wearing light-colored clothes keeps you cool on sunny days.  

$0.10 and $0.20 per square foot more expensive than mid-priced shingle roofs

Air seal attic space 

Air seal all the small gaps between drywall and top plates, any penetration in the ceiling including can lights, fans, and electric and plumbing penetrations.  If you are a renter, suggest your homeowner run annual maintenance to inspect gaps and leaks.

$200-$500 Solution

Common Symptoms

Air-seal and then insulate  

Insulation is the last thing you should do, after all the air sealing work in the roofing and attic access. In order to ensure good performance, install insulation after air sealing all the joints.

$0 Solution

Check your insulation

Insulation in your attic keeps the cold winter air and hot summer air from entering your living space. Not having enough insulation will cause your electric bills to be higher than necessary. If you are a renter, recommend your homeowner to install insulation, GA power offers up to 50% rebate on attic insulation that can be availed for home improvement.

Take precautions when insulating on top of, or near, existing wiring, fixtures, chimneys, and flue pipes. 

$500 Solution

Add weather stripping around the attic door

Attic doors are not regularly used and are most likely the original stairs that were installed with the construction of the house. Peeling and sticking weather stripping is a simple and inexpensive way to seal your attic.

$15-20 Solution

Open the vent in the summertime

Hot air gets trapped in the summer and increases the overall temperature of the rooms below. If your home is in a more humid climate, hot air can trap moisture and cause mildew in the attic. Open the vents to the exterior to release the hot air and create air movement.

$0 Solution


Stay away from exposed wiring  

Before you start the inspection, check the current state of your crawlspace for fire risks. Consult a qualified electrician if your wiring is exposed or damaged within the crawlspace. Do not proceed with the inspection if any wiring is damaged or exposed!

$0 Solution

Call for inspection of combustion appliances  

If you have a gas-fired furnace or other heating appliances that are unvented, call for immediate action as this can lead to pressure differences causing “back-drafting” and fire hazards.  

Inspect the presence of interior moisture  

Interior moisture can be caused by

  1. water vapor from bare soil floor,
  2. a dryer vent that exhausts into the space,
  3. plumbing leaks,
  4. condensing furnace

Moisture in the basement should be regularly inspected and addressed.  

$0 Solution

Interior moisture sources

Remove asbestos found in your basement  

If your basement has old worn-out insulation wraps on ductwork, there is a likelihood of the presence of asbestos. If discovered, a professional inspection should be called and treated. Exposure to asbestos can lead to lung diseases posing a health risk.  

$0-$10 Solution

Treat asbestos

Do not store hazardous materials  

Hazardous materials (like creosote-treated lumber or pesticides) and flammable materials (like gasoline and solvents) should not be stored in a crawlspace or basement. Remove and properly dispose of all hazardous materials. 

$0 Solution

Take immediate action if you have a flooding basement  

Does your basement flood during every rainfall? Call for inspection or report it to the homeowner for a detailed inspection. The following factors could be the causes of flooding basements:  

  1. Vents opening to outside; 
  2. Exposed soil in the crawl space that absorbs water and moisture;  
  3. If you have broken water pipes that open to the basement;

$0 Solution

Check the temperature in your crawlspace  

If the crawlspace feels more humid than the outside air, there could be water entering the basement. If you are a renter, notify your landlord of the leak. To temporarily remove the moisture from the crawlspace, purchase a dehumidifier. This will remove the extra water from the air and reduce the chances of mold and mildew.  

$150-250 Solution (Dehumidifier)

Add a vapor barrier for the floor and walls  

Cover exposed soil in the crawl space with 6mm black poly groundcover. Make sure the soil is compacted before the addition of this layer.  

Check for pests and rodents  

Explore pest control strategies, there are many low-cost solutions that do not use chemicals.  

Maintain consistent hot water temperature  

Check the temperature of your water heater. You may not realize it, but your water heater has an adjustable knob to can the temperature of the hot water. If it is set too high, then energy is wasted on over-heating water throughout the day.  

$0 Solution


Change the time of day you water the garden  

Water all plants and flowers in the morning rather than the middle of the day or the afternoon. If you water during the hottest part of the day, more water can evaporate before soaking into the soil.  

$0 Solution 

Group plants close together

When selecting a location for your plants, try to group them closer together to lower the amount of water needed to reach each plant. When the roots share a smaller, but appropriate amount of soil for that plant type, they can absorb more of the water from a small area rather than the entire yard.  

$0 Solution 

Plant plants on a level surface 

Plants on a steep slope will not absorb enough water before it runs down the hill. Also avoid locating plants in a valley or ditch because they can be flooded if there is heavy rain.  

$0 Solution

Treat lead-contaminated soil 

If your house is built before 1978 or if you live on a busy roadway, then you may have high levels of lead in the soil. The soil needs to be carefully treated before beginning landscape work. If you plan to have play areas in your garden, move them away from the sides of the house and from bare soil.  

Planting methods to avoid lead-contaminated soil 

  • Plant gardens away from your home and other building components like fences.  
  • If you must plant within these areas, till the soil to four to six inches and cover with uncontaminated new soil.  
  • Care must be taken in washing hands thoroughly after the landscaping work.  
  • Wash the vegetables or fruit you grow in the garden thoroughly and avoid consuming the peel and the outer layers.  

Collect rainwater 

While it is raining, collect water from the downspout of the gutter to save for later watering on dry days. Other collection systems include rain barrels and cisterns. Cisterns are larger tanks that can store hundreds and thousands of gallons of water, that is sufficient to reduce the amount of water or eliminate municipal water for landscaping purposes. Cisterns are preferred as they are available in sizes up to 10,000 gallons. However, depending on your water needs you can plan your investment on rainwater harvesting.  

Barrel system (Between 55-90 Gallon size) – $120-$150 

Cistern system – $1000 and above 

Select native plant species  

Native plants are adapted to our region’s heat and humidity. Georgia native plants include major plant groups due to the diverse climate and terrain found across the state. Whether you are looking for a butterfly-attracting flower or carnivorous pitcher plant, the native plant of Georgia has something for every garden. More resources about Georgia’s native plants can be found here. 

Georgia‘s sun-loving perennials and annual plants

Have rain gardens to avoid flooding

A rain garden is designed to collect runoff from impervious surfaces such as roofs, walkways, and parking lots, allowing water to infiltrate the ground. Rain gardens are good alternatives to control surface water runoff. Plant a rain garden of native plants, shrubs, and trees that reduce the amount of fertilizer needed and provide a way for water to soak into the ground. Rain gardens are an attractive addition to your landscape but must be carefully designed and located to avoid flooding.

$0 Solution

Avoid turfs  

Minimize turf area in your garden and plant native or native-adapted species that require the least amount of water for their growth.  However, if the lead contamination is high in your soil, plant grass on areas of bare soil or covers the soil with native grass seeds, mulch, or wood chips if possible.