Homes and apartments occupied by renters make up 31.4% of total housing units in the US. This means that nearly a third of Americans are tied to specific housing regulations or report to a landlord, which can make having any sort of control over energy usage and costs seem difficult.
1. Take the stairs. If you’re living in an apartment building, consider skipping the elevator. Riding the elevator four times a day can produce between 0.3-0.6kg of CO2 per person. Picking the stairs can make a small dent in reducing your energy consumption while also encouraging a healthy lifestyle…what could be better?
2. Invest in your windows. Investing in curtains or window treatments is a practical way to cut down on your usage of both air conditioning and heating. Does your rental already have curtains installed? No problem. Just invest in replacements that you can take with you after your lease is up. Curtains have the ability to control room temperature by simply being closed or open. Curtains in neutral shades, in particular, can reduce heat gains by 33%, so opt for closing your blinds instead of cranking up the AC on summer days. In the winter, curtains can insulate a room and keep heat from escaping, saving money and energy used to keep a space warm.
3. Unplug your phone charger! (You’ll thank us later) – Laptop chargers, hair dryers, phone chargers, coffee machines and even toaster ovens continue to suck energy all day even if you turned them off. That can add up to nearly $200 a year. That $100 coffee machine you’ve had since college just got a whole lot more expensive, didn’t it?
4. Be smart about your lighting. This goes without saying. Turning the lights off when you leave a room is a mindful action that takes less than a minute and can dramatically reduce your footprint. Turning off even one non-LED light bulb that would otherwise burn all day can save $15 a year. Although that doesn’t sound like much, you can save hundreds depending on how many lights you have in your apartment. Replace all your bulbs with LEDs too, and if your landlord buys your bulbs for you, send them a quick note. Hopefully, they’ll get on board, and it’s well worth asking.
5. Ditch the dishwasher. If you don’t have the option to replace your appliances with more efficient devices, you can still save a lot of energy by simply performing daily household tasks by hand. This includes hang-drying clothes or washing dishes manually. Using your water heater less, which is a major contributor to your total energy consumption, will cut your expenses as well as save on energy used to heat the water. This can be as easy as using less hot water to wash dishes or shower, or turning down the thermostat on your water heater if it’s within your control.
6. Pay your own utility bill? Look into community solar. While you can’t invest in rooftop solar as a renter, you can leverage whatever community solar options are available in your area. The best part? Community solar will actually save you money on your monthly power bills.
When you rent, your ability to replace energy-hungry amenities with green technologies can be limited. Whether you need to honor building codes, report to a landlord, or simply do not have the resources to overhaul your appliances for “Smart” ones, there are many easy ways to save on utilities while conserving the environment.
When it feels impossible to control your energy consumption in your space, refresh on these tips! There’s always potential to reduce your carbon footprint while saving money in the process.
Want to learn more about how to create a more efficient space? Check out A day in the life of a modern, clean energy apartment.