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Why “Heat Included” Isn’t Such a Hot Deal

For the renter who has “heat-included” in their lease, we first have an urgent plea: Stop wearing your shorts in your apartment.

Instead, put on some pants, throw on the sweater, and help us save heat and energy.

Now the obvious response from the “heat included” folks will be, “Why should I turn down my thermostat?” If heat is included in your lease, then obviously you’ve paid for it, and you should use it, right?

Well, that’s partially true. But there are two very good reasons why you should join us in an ongoing effort to keep our Madison Apartments energy bills under control, and it’s not just because it’s fun to get warm under a blankie with a cup of cocoa:

  1. You may actually be contributing to a rent increase for future renters or your renewal.
  2. You’re missing out on an opportunity to halt greenhouse gases and get onboard with the UW’s We Conserve efforts.

Let’s take a closer look at both of these reasons.

“Heat Included” Does Not Mean “Free Heat”


In life, as in apartment heating, there is no free lunch. The same holds true for apartments where heat is included. As you’ve probably guessed, a landlord isn’t providing you with a free utility out of the goodness of his/her heart.

Many landlords use the allure of “heat included” as a marketing tool to attract renters. Potential residents usually see this “free” amenity as some sort of added bonus.

That’s not really the case, however. Rent for these apartments is generally adjusted to include heating costs, based on the actual usage from previous years (at best) or based on highest estimate usage (at worst). Either way, they’re not heating your apartment for free.

In the worst-case scenario, if you plan on renting with a landlord again, the rent may go up if you use excessive amounts of heat and cause the utility bills to skyrocket.

Here are some tips for avoiding excessive heat usage in your apartment:

You can also save another one percent for every degree you lower your thermostat for each 8-hour period you’re asleep or away at work. Aim to keep your temperature from exceeding 72 degrees F when people are at home, and lower it to 65 degrees F or less when you are sleeping or no one is at home.

That’s simply not true. You save energy because the house uses less energy to maintain the lower temperature. Here’s a great article that provides an in-depth explanation.


Helping Conserve Energy Makes You a Steward of the EnvironmentWe want to use this space to send some kudos to the UW-Madison and its We Conserve program. The program, launched in 2006, set out to reduce UW’s annual energy consumption and environmental footprint by 20% relative to 2006 levels. They achieved their goals in 2010.

Big on conservation and waste prevention, the UW’s We Conserve program is summed up nicely in this video. It shows how the UW is extending their efforts to a personal level – and its shortcomings. An authentic, candid look, as the title indicates.

How can you become a steward of the program, or “Be the We?” To put the energy consumption in perspective, We Conserve passes along some startling numbers about HVAC usage alone on campus:

Check out the suggestions listed on the We Conserve page for “HVAC” (heating).
These are their recommendations when you’re in campus buildings:

 Dress to the season
 Set your room thermostat sensibly
 Adjust your thermostat lower to minimize waste during unoccupied periods
 Unplug electric space heaters and foot warmers
 Make sure entry and vestibule doors are closed
 Make sure storm windows are closed
 Close shades during unoccupied periods
 Report defective thermostats and over/under heated rooms

Looks like what we mentioned at the beginning of the article, right? What works on the UW Campus will work in your apartment building, too. So lower that thermostat and throw on a sweater, because the small changes you make can have a big impact on the world around you.
“We have not inherited the world from our forefathers. We have borrowed it from our children.” – Kashmiri Proverb


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