Are you wondering how you can live the green life you want if you’re renting an apartment rather than living in a space you own? We’ve teamed up with apartment search website RENTCafe to bring you these great ideas for enjoying an eco-friendly lifestyle in an apartment, condo, or home you rent.
How to Green Your Rental Apartment
If you live in an apartment, you’ve likely made several changes to the décor to help suit your style.
But if you aren’t also making green improvements to your home, then it may not be as healthy or as energy efficient as it could be.
And while you may think that creating a more eco-friendly home isn’t possible as a renter, there are several ways you can green your rental apartment to save money and make it more comfortable to live in at the same time.
BONUS! You can get these done in one day and reap the benefits for a long time!
Invest in Drapes
The biggest source of energy loss in most homes is right around the window area. Even with double paned windows, if the area surrounding them isn’t well sealed, you could still be losing a lot of the energy you use to heat and cool your apartment.
By investing in good quality, thermal drapes, you can help stop this energy loss, eliminating drafts and making your apartment more comfortable at the same time.
As a bonus, most thermal drapes are also light blocking, so you can control how much sunlight your apartment gets – perfect for weekends when you want to sleep in.
By the way, if you install floor-to-ceiling drapes, you can easily take them with you when you move. They’ll fit other windows.
Swap Out Your Lightbulbs
Even if the light fixtures in the apartment need to stay as they are you can still lower your energy bill an get better ambient light at the same time by investing in new LED lightbulbs.
LEDs use far less energy than incandescents and last for at least a dozen years!
Plus, they can give off more lumens per watt (which means they produce more light for less energy), so you can get a brighter living area while saving energy at the same time.
Here’s how to choose the right LED for your apartment.
Replace Your Water-Wasting Showerhead for a WaterSense Model
It may be best to leave the main faucets and toilet in your apartment alone and encourage your landlord to make them more water efficient. But it’s easy to replace your shower head with a low-flow WaterSense model. Just look for the WaterSense logo, pictured right, when you shop.
Older shower heads use as many as 7 gallons of water a minute. New water saving units that meet EPA’s WaterSense standards use around 2 gallons. WaterSense technology helps make up the difference by spinning the water droplets as they leave the head, making the shower feel fuller.
You’ll reduce your water bill, paying for the modest cost of the shower head in no time.
Many appliances end up sucking up energy even when they aren’t on or in use.
Sometimes known as “energy vampires,” these appliances and devices add a lot to your monthly energy bill.
To help save energy and money, put a power strip at each outlet, then plug your standby devices like lamps, televisions, gaming sets, and computers into these.
When you’re not using any of the items, turn off the power strip to stop the energy drain.
FYI, here’s one of the power strips I have my video monitor and Roku plugged into.
Purify the Air
If your apartment was painted in the last five years, chances are that it’s still giving off VOCs or volatile organic compounds, into the air. The effect is worse the closer you get to the time the paint was applied. In fact, about 50% of the VOCs are given off in the first year after the room was painted, with the rest “off-gassing” over the next four.
Plus, you might use air fresheners or cleaning products that are filled with synthetic fragrances, chemical compounds that can cause head aches, flu-like symptoms, and even trigger asthma attacks.
To help clean the air you breathe and eliminate some of those harmful toxicants, first switch to no VOC paint when you repaint.
In place of air fresheners, remove the sources that stink (like rotting food, dirty clothes, pet waste), circulate fresh air, and make potpourri out of fragrant natural herbs and dried flowers.
Use baking soda, vinegar, and fresh squeezed lemon juice for most cleaning projects. Open boxes or bowls of baking soda can also help absorb unwanted odors.
Monitor what’s in your air using a system like HomeLab’s, which will tell you what chemicals you’re breathing, and how you can turn your space into a healthy home.
Add Some Plants
Air purification systems aren’t the only way to clean up the air in your apartment and make it healthier; adding plants can make a big difference as well.
Greenery like English Ivy, rubber plants, and peace lilies clean the air in your home and enhance your décor, too.
Place plants in areas that may need air cleansing the most, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms and breathe a little easier.
In my living room, I have a big peace lily. It gets beautiful white flowers once or twice a year.
Check and Replace Your HVAC Filter
If you have a furnace, central air conditioning unit, or HVAC system that uses ducts to heat or cool your apartment, make sure that you’re checking and cleaning the filter at least once per season (some companies recommend changing or cleaning filters monthly).
When the filter gets clogged, it causes the unit to work harder, spiking your energy bill.
If you aren’t sure if the filter needs to be changed, hold it up to the light; if you can’t see through it, it should be cleaned.
NOTE: You don’t need to buy a new filter every month; get one that’s reusable and wash it by spraying it with a hose or running it under a faucet. Just make sure it dries thoroughly before re-installing it. You can keep an extra on hand so you always have one to clean and one to replace it with.
Decorate Using Vintage and Recycled Furnishings
From rugs and bed frames to sofas, dining room tables and lamps, you can find great bargains and repurpose gently used (and sometimes brand new) furniture rather than buy brand new.
In addition to CraigsList.com, eBay.com and Freecycle.com, browse the listings at NextDoor.com, a site that makes it easy for neighbors to swap from each other or buy at a reasonable price.
Thrift stores, auction houses, estate sales and vintage shops (think antiques) are more great – and eco-friendly – places to shop.
Here’s one of the rugs I have in my home. When I got it 15 years ago it was already at least 60 years old.
It doesn’t take much to green your rental apartment and make it healthier and more eco-friendly. Implement any of these changes and you’ll see the benefits in no time.
What Do You Do?
What else do you do to green your rental apartment? Please share!
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