Many large-scale renovations only make sense for homeowners. Naturally, you don’t want to invest your hard-earned money on costly upgrades that get left behind when moving out of an apartment or rental home. But luckily, there are lots of ways to reduce your environmental footprint and save money even if you don’t own the property you call home.
The following tips for energy efficient apartments don’t require any significant investment or permanent renovations. But they can significantly cut your utility bills and make your home a little greener.
Reduce Water Use
Install a Low-Flow Showerhead
Modern low-flow showerheads are luxurious and water-efficient.
Most newer apartments will have low-flush toilets installed. But if you have an old-style water hog, displace some of the water in the tank with a brick or plastic bottle full of gravel. You can also consider installing a dual-flush retrofit kit, and take it with you when you move.
Make sure your faucets all have low-flow aerators on them, which create a more effective and forceful stream with less water.
Reduce Energy Use
Install LED Light Bulbs
At this point, LED’s durability and energy efficiency speak for themselves. And the newest LED light bulbs cost under $10.
Kill Power Vampires
The simplest solution is physically unplugging anything you aren’t using. Power strips are an easy way to cut off the trickle of power that’s wasted by unused chargers and electronics, and Belkin even makes a nifty timed outlet that switches itself off.
Know How Much Electricity You Use
A simple electricity meter like the Kill-a-Watt will let you pinpoint energy hogs, and get a handle on how much juice you’re actually using.
Keep Your Fridge Running Smoothly
A little basic refrigerator maintenance will let it work far more efficiently, and you’ll save money on your power bill. Two easy tips: vacuum the vents and compressor coils to keep them free of dust, and rub a small amount of vaseline on the rubber door gasket to help ensure a tight seal.
Launder in Cold Water
A modern washing machine with quality detergent will get most clothing perfectly clean in cold water – avoiding all the energy waste from heating up gallons of water.
Any waste that you don’t put in the trash means less trash to be processed through landfills. You can find a variety of convenient, odorless indoor compost pails that are perfect for kitchen use.
Take Advantage of Renewable Energy
Many utility companies let you select the source of your energy, including solar and wind power. And if you have a balcony, you can even generate your own solar power with an all-in-one photovoltaic panel.
Heat & Cool More Efficiently
Seal the Cracks
Foam rubber weatherstripping can do wonders for preventing drafts and keeping outside air outside. And those beanbag “snakes” are also great for blocking gaps under doors.
Insulate the Windows
Windows are literally giant holes in the walls of your home. Storm windows are vey effective, but even a layer of plastic film adds a surprising amount of insulation. Thermal insulating window blinds and even heavy draperies are great too, providing a dose of style while boosting energy efficiency.
Reflect your Radiator Heat
Adding a layer of foil behind a radiator will help reflect heat into the room instead of absorbing it into the wall. You can keep your home just as warm with the heat set lower.
Get Smart With Your Window AC
Have a window air conditioner? Be sure it’s in the shade – it won’t have to work nearly as hard to keep your pad comfortable on a hot summer day. And in the wintertime, either seal it up with a cover or remove it from the window altogether.
Keep it Shady in the Summertime
Close your shades or blinds before leaving home in the summer, and your apartment won’t absorb all that solar heat while you’re out.
Humidify in the Wintertime
Humidity levels have a dramatic effect on how warm or cool a home feels. Use a humidifier to add moisture in the winter, and your home will feel far more comfortable without cranking up the heat.
Move the Air Around
Fans (especially ceiling fans) are great year-round, offering comfort with less reliance on a heater or AC. Fans evenly distribute heated air that collects at the ceiling in the wintertime, and offer a cooling breeze in the summer.
Finally, Reuse & Recycle
This is good advice for everyone, not just renters. Furnishing a new apartment? Using previously owned furniture can add some really cool, unique style as well as being environmentally friendly. And when items reach the end of their usable life, take full advantage of municipal recycling programs.