It’s great to see attention given to making your home more environmentally friendly, but what about ways to make your rental greener? Some of the things you need to do to achieve an environmentally-friendly home do take some investment and it’s no surprise that renters have some reluctance to spend money on or to make large scale changes to a property they don’t own. But there are ways to make your rental greener without spending loads of money, keeping within your lease and without upsetting your landlord.
It is quite amazing how much energy is wasted because appliances are left plugged in and not turned off. Plugged in audio-visual appliances just drain energy from the power supply. It is usually forgetfulness rather than wanton-ness, so unless you are a serial “turner-offer,” it is wise to invest in a smart power strip. It is especially good for televisions because when you turn your TV off, it turns all the peripherals off too. Check it out on Amazon and while there, have a look at the other conserving sockets for more ways to make your rental greener.
We waste an awful lot of water on our daily ablutions (I’m a real water baby and spend way too long in the shower). One of the ways to make your rental more environmentally-friendly is to fit a low flow controller to your showerhead. They are fairly easy to obtain and fit, and it is a good investment because you can take it with you when you leave.
It would be great if you could fit a grey water system to a rental, but in the majority of cases this is likely to be impractical if not impossible. To compensate, however, you can reduce water wastage. Don’t tip half-drunk glasses of water down the drain – use it to water the plants. Use a dishwasher instead of doing washing up by hand. Not washing half-loads is another of the easy ways to save water.
It would certainly be easier to check the provision before you sign a tenancy agreement, but persuading your landlord to have the utilities supplied by a green or renewable provider is one of the great and (usually) budget-friendly ways to make your rental greener.
Insulation and heat regulation are two of the important factors in environmentally friendly homes. You obviously don’t want to invest heavily in a property you don’t own, and your landlord really should be responsible for the major elements, but you can help by hanging blackout curtains. Also, you can regulate the heat in your apartment by closing window coverings during the day to keep the heat out in the summer and in during the winter.
If your W.C. does not have a dual flush, talk to you landlord about replacing it. A dual flush retrofit costs up to $60, takes about 30 minutes to install and saves up to 20,000 gallons of water a year (based on a family of four). Amazon is selling them for less than $20 currently: amazon.com. If your landlord is interested in ways to make your rental greener, he may even reimburse you or contribute to the cost.
If you are in a long tenancy agreement or you are allowed to decorate before you move in, choose your paint carefully and make sure it is eco-friendly. This is particularly important if there is a smell of paint in the apartment because this means your walls have probably been covered with VOC paint – i.e. paint containing volatile organic compounds. The best way to tackle this is to seal the existing VOC paint with a shellac based primer (like this one on amazon.com). This primer isn’t a 100% eco-friendly product in itself, but it will prevent further off-gassing from the VOC paint within hours and it is then easily covered with low VOC paint.
So many of us have our water way hotter than it needs to be. Water that comes out of the faucet should not be so hot that it scalds. If you use a dishwasher and a washing machine, water needs to be just hot enough to use for other general household tasks. A huge amount of energy is expended keeping water at high temperatures, so ask your landlord to turn the thermometer down on the boiler/water heater. A maximum of 120 degrees F is recommended.
Other easy ways to make your rental greener are to use an air purifier, ensure there are no gaps around doors and windows and to use only LED light bulbs. I’d love to hear your ideas too.
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