Renters or homeowners: Who uses the most electricity?

Whether you've purchased your home or are renting a place temporarily, the appliances you use matter when it comes to the cost of your utility bills. Economists Lucas Davis and David Levine from the Haas School of Business of the University of California, Berkeley, released data in November revealing that renters use more electricity than homeowners and presented some potential reasons why.

Since many homeowners have incentives for investing in energy-efficient appliances – such as reduced monthly costs and even state and federal rebates – the research shows that more than a third of them own appliances that have the EPA Energy Star rating for efficiency.

For renters, the data is quite different. Occupants generally don't have a say in the appliances in their apartments. If they did, they'd probably insist on having energy-efficient refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers once they discovered how much money it could save them. Since in most cases it's the landlords who are making these kinds of purchases, they often may dismiss the long-term savings of energy-efficient appliances and instead buy ones that are a bit cheaper.

According to the survey, 45 percent of the washing machines in owner-occupied homes or condominiums are Energy Star-rated, compared to a mere 17 percent in rental units. What's particularly interesting is that the air conditioners renters invest in on their own are often energy-efficient models, suggesting that when they have a choice, they opt for environmentally friendly products.

One solution that could convince landlords to invest in more energy-efficient appliances is raising the rent for those units. However, since potential tenants are unable to truly know how much they would be saving until they move in, they're less likely to want to cough up more cash for their apartments.

This data only further illustrates the fact that many homeowners understand the value of green technology. If you're thinking about making energy-efficient upgrades in your home, the best way to start is by contacting a home inspection contractor. They can assess your property and help you determine the best options.