Go Green, Even If You Rent: Sustainable Living Tips

Going green is on everyone’s mind, and it quickly becomes a resolution thanks to the arrival of 2020. Many homeowners are vowing to install solar panels, purchase more energy-efficient appliances and even add solar panels to their roofs. But what about the rental community? Many of the eco-friendly updates out there are geared towards homeowners however they’re not the only ones who want to lighten their footprint. According to the US Census Bureau, 36% of residences are occupied by renters as of 2018. There are a variety of easy and cheap changes any tenant can make to reduce their energy use and help the earth.

Electricity – This may seem obvious but remember to turn the lights off in the rooms no one is using. Replace your lightbulbs. The initial purchase of an LED bulb may be a bit more expensive than incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs however they last much longer. Read here about the differences between traditional and LED bulbs. Then energy savings don’t just help your footprint it puts a little money back in your pocket. My family purchased brand new LED light bulbs for our rental apartment 5 years ago. We unscrewed them from the fixtures and continued using them in our new home. Those same bulbs are still lighting our home today.

Conserve water – Place a vessel filled with water, such as a water bottle or a Ziploc bag, in your toilet tank. Put a timer in the bathroom to shorten everyone’s shower time. Use the water level setting on your washer. Many people set it to large and leave it. Try setting it to small the next time you only have a handful of items to launder. Turn the water off when you brush your teeth and when you are washing dishes.

Bike or walk – Of course this depends on where you live. Many people rent an apartment building or a multifamily house. Leaving your car in the driveway and walking to the bank, the dry cleaner and the pharmacy all help conserve fuel and lower the emissions put into the atmosphere.

Eliminate drafts – Rentals frequently have older windows and doors. Try sealing the windows from the inside with plastic. Typically marketed as an indoor window insulator quit it’s just a sheet of thin plastic that is attached with double-sided tape and shrunk to fit with a hairdryer. Also, block up the cracks at the bottom of the exterior doors with an old towel. It’s surprising how much heat is lost through these tiny cracks. Reducing the number of air leaks will save energy because your heating system will not have to work as hard to constantly heat the space.

Eco-friendly updates aren’t just for the homeowner, they’re for everyone and can be implemented with a little elbow grease and some time. Many of the energy savings projects available require basic skills and cost less than twenty dollars. Anyone can implement them. Saving a little here and there feels good and a resolution we can all keep.