Renting an apartment can can be an environmentally efficient way of living - but it is not always the case. Some energy efficiency strategies require modifications to the building which, of course, the renter does not have control over. Other energy efficiency aspects rely on energy efficient appliances and equipment that the renter does not select - like the refrigerator, water heaters, or washing machines.
Most renters pay for their own utilities - and many renters are interested in minimizing their environmental footprint. Whatever your interests in finding ways to increase your energy efficiency as a renter, here are a few tips:
Lighting - lighting typically takes up 12-20% of a renter’s energy costs. Replace all of your light bulbs with LED lights and you will reduce your lighting energy consumption by 85% over existing lighting if you current lights are incandescent lights, and 50% of your your energy consumption if you are using CFL lights.
Thermostat Setting - If you control your heating and cooling, set your thermostat higher in the summer (78° is a great target!) and lower in the winter (68° is a good place to start) and you will save money and reduce your environmental footpirnt.
Window Coverings - add window coverings and treatments to minimize the loss of warm air in winter and cool air in summer. If you select light weight and light colored coverings you will still get daylight into your living spaces and reduce your need for lighting.
Unplug - according to the US EPA ENERGY STAR program, the average American household spends more than $100 each year to power devices that are turned off. A few easy ones are your TV, Computer, and game consoles.
Freshen Up The Fridge - The refrigerator may have come with your space, but you can still save energy and money by taking a few easy maintenance steps.
Think Efficiency Before You Rent - before you select your next living space, be sure to ask the landlord about energy efficiency. Some of the things you can ask about are:
Ask about the utility bills - While touring the rental, ask the landlord for a ballpark figure of what the previous tenants were paying per month for power. Make sure that number works within your budget; and if it does, challenge yourself to be more efficient than the tenants before you.
Check the appliances - When checking out a potential rental, spend time looking at the appliances that come with it. A simple way to tell if an appliance is energy efficient is to check for an ENERGY STAR® label.
Insulation - ask the landlord about the insulation levels in the building. If you are checking the space out in the winter months, feel around the exterior of the spaces for drafts or cool spots along the walls.