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Tips for Renters
Simple steps for renters that don't require a landlord's approval, as well as simple suggestions of ways to collaborate with landlords.
Though you may not own your home, there are plenty of things you can do to help lower your energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint.
Energy Saving Tips:
Lighting is a great place to start. Update light fixtures to more energy-efficient models, and be sure to change out your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. These use 75% less energy and last 6-10 times longer than a traditional bulb, which saves money on both energy and replacement costs. Always turn out the light when you leave a room!
Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats adjusts the temperature while you’re at work during the day or asleep at night, so you are only heating and cooling your home when you are there to enjoy it. If you can’t install a programmable thermostat, turn down the thermostat manually. By turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for 8 hours while asleep under a down comforter, you can save about 5%–15% a year on your heating bill—a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long. And most people sleep better when it’s slightly cool, so there’s good reason to lower the thermostat on winter nights! Actually, keep the thermostat lower in the daytime while at home too, and put a sweater on and you’ll save even more on your energy bill.
Mind your appliances: Electronics account for 15% of household electricity use, and many appliances still use electricity even when turned off! Use power strips as your central “off” point for all your phone chargers, TVs, computers, DVDs, etc, to stop these “phantom” energy uses. And look for ENERGY STAR appliances, which have built-in technology to reduce standby power use.
Mind your shower: Take showers (5-10 gallons of hot water) instead of baths (30 gallons+ of hot water). Replacing your old showerhead with a low-flow model will save water and reduce energy consumption significantly on an annual basis. Insulating hot water pipes where accessible will also help reduce energy costs.
Facilitate air movement: Arrange your furniture such that it is not blocking air registers, allowing for free circulation. If your home has radiators, place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls to ensure that air circulates into the room rather than into the wall.
Account for heat from the sun: If you have south-facing windows, keep drapes open during winter daylight hours to take advantage of the sun’s warmth. In the summer, be sure to close them during the day to keep the house cool and avoid air conditioner over-use.
Use the dishwasher wisely: Before loading the dishwasher, scrape dishes rather than rinse them and if you must rinse some dishes only use cold water. Rinsing uses a lot of water and energy, and most dishwashers today are designed to thoroughly clean dishes that are not fully rinsed. Run the dishwasher only when it is full, and use the air dry option whenever available.
Do your laundry wisely: Wash laundry in cold water, and try to wash full loads. You can purchase cold water laundry detergent, which is specially formulated to clean your clothes just as well without the energy costs of heating the water.
Dry your clothes wisely: Take care to not over-dry your clothes. If your dryer has it, use the moisture-control setting to automatically turn off the machine when clothes are dry. Make sure your lint trap is always clean, as the dryer will work faster if it is. Consider drying your clothes until they are partially dry, and then line drying them on a drying rack for complete dryness. A dryer operating an extra 15 minutes per load could cost you up to $34 per year.
Mind the air conditioner unit: Considering purchasing a room air conditioner? Consider an ENERGY STAR qualified model. They use at least 10 percent less energy than standard models. In the winter, be sure to insulate room air conditioners from the outside with a tight-fitting a/c unit cover, available at your local home improvement center or hardware store. This keeps heated air from escaping outside. Alternately, you can remove the window unit in the winter months to prevent energy losses. Be sure the window unit fits tightly in the window so outdoor air is not getting in.
Be sure to talk with your landlord about the importance of energy efficiency. You could even suggest a cost-sharing arrangement where you help to pay for larger improvements in return for a rent reduction or something similar. Encourage your landlord him or her to invest in energy-saving appliances and improvements, and it will pay off for both of you.
You can use a carbon calculator to see just how much energy in the form of CO2 you are using. Below is a link to the EPA's Carbon Calculator.
Personal Emmissions Calculator