College is a time to learn a ton—not just about Chaucer and how to speak Mandarin Chinese, but how to make it without parents hovering nearby. And, while there are classes for just about everything, learning how to live out from under mom and dad’s roof? Well, that’s often a trial-and-error process that could lead to some doozy slip-ups along the way.

In an effort to help you avoid becoming a cautionary tale, we’ve put together this College Student’s Guide to Living on Your Own, a series showing you how to find an apartment you can afford, roommates who won’t drive you nuts, a college-friendly credit card and more, to put you well on the path to acing Adulthood 101.

In this final installment, we show you five things you’ll learn only by living on your own—and how to tackle these milestones with ease. Read on and also look back at our entire series to get yourself up to speed on the fine art of Adulting!

1. The right way to change a lightbulb

You simply unscrew the old bulb, head to the hardware store, and pick up a new one, right?


Today there are more types of bulbs than ever, and with the need for energy efficiency at a premium, you need to have a good handle on what you’re screwing into your fixtures. There are three main styles: halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Halogen incandescents are almost always the cheapest, but they’re also the least energy-efficient bulbs on the market. (A regular incandescent bulb’s life span is a meager 1,200 hours.) CFLs are like the long fluorescent tube lights you might see in an office or garage, but in a curly, compact “pig’s tail” version—and they use about 75% less energy, while lasting about 10 times longer. However, the gold standard is the LED, a type of semiconductor that converts electricity into light.

Residential LEDs, especially Energy Star-rated products (a demarcation for energy-efficient products created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy) use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs (the average life span of an LED is 50,000 hours).

2. How to keep your home and belongings safe

Growing up, your parents might have had a security system or self-monitoring security equipment to protect the house from intruders, but now it’s your turn to watch over your domain.

Since you’re on a college student’s budget, you probably can’t afford a big, fancy security system, but there are simple steps you…