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Written by Sam Radbil, Greeniac316700   
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Tuesday, 02 January 2018

How To Be Eco-Friendly In Your Apartment

Being a renter takes a number of responsibilities off your plate: property taxes, long-term commitments, maintenance, and costly landscaping (usually). But your landlord isn’t responsible for your energy consumption, conservation, or other behaviors that save you money while benefiting the environment. There are a few things you can do from the confines of your rented walls to make a positive impact on the environment. In fact, if you’re living in an apartment building with five or more units, you might already be ahead of the game. As the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports, households living in buildings with five-plus units use about half the energy as other types of homes.1 To further tighten energy usage, try these tips from ABODO, a renter-focused apartment listing app.

Recycle
It’s one of the oldest tips in the book, but it’s far from an outdated mode of disposal. In January 2017, the Energy Department announced a new organization, the Reducing Embodied-energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute,2 focused on increasing the energy efficiency of recycling by 50 percent by 2027 by lowering the costs of recycling technologies. While engineers continue to make recycling more beneficial, you should continue to set aside your glass, plastic, and paper products instead of sending them to a landfill. For ideas on how to set up a recycling program in your apartment building read here .

Apartment Recycling i


Switch Light Bulbs
Renters can make the simple switch from incandescent to CFL or LED light bulbs, which last longer, use less energy, and can recreate that cozy glow associated with the older bulbs. Even if you aren’t in charge of your energy bill, Consumer Reports notes that this switch can turn 600 kWh used into just 130 kWh — which is an enormous energy cutback.3

Keep Your Thermostat in Check
Being slightly uncomfortable — or swapping your tank top for a blanket, or vice versa — can save money on your energy bill and reduce your associated carbon footprint. If sacrificing your ideal temperature is not an option for you, try just lowering the heat or air conditioning by 10–15 degrees when you aren’t home. If you do that for eight hours a day, while you’re at work or asleep, you can save up to 10% off your annual heating and energy costs, according to Energy.gov.4 If you are able to install a programmable thermostat this could help your efforts to save energy immensely! During the summer months, keep your blinds closed on sun-facing windows, and try cracking your windows overnight and trapping in the cool night air come morning. If it isn’t too hot, pair a couple of open windows — hopefully on opposite sides of your apartment to create a crossbreeze — with a fan or two instead of cranking up the AC.

Seal Windows
Although you can’t purchase and install storm windows on your apartment building to cut down on lost heat and energy, you aren’t completely helpless. Try sealing winter windows with heat-shrink plastic wrap to trap in a layer of insulating air and block drafts. It might not match your goal design aesthetics, but it can save you up to $20 per window, if you live in a chilly locale.5

Start A Compost Bin
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that food scraps make up 20% to 30% of all garbage.6 Although foodstuffs are biodegradable, in landfills, they take up space and break down inefficiently, leading to higher methane releases. Aside from actively reducing food waste with careful meal planning, composting is a great option. It sounds smelly and best-suited for a homeowner’s backyard, but it’s very simple to have a small, effective apartment compost bin. In fact, a properly managed compost bin (not everything could or should be composted) won’t smell or attract pests. Pick up a specially designed container from the hardware store, read up on what you need to get started (for example, leaves, vegetable matter, and water), and start creating your very own nutrient-rich humus, which is great for gardens. You can check out this GreeniacsGuide to composting for more info!

Compost Bin ii


The renter population is continuing to grow, in every age bracket, currently up to 42.6 million in the U.S., which is expected to grow by 4.4 million by 2025.7 With such an enormous number choosing to rent, it’s increasingly important for renters to put more energy-saving and eco-friendly tactics into practice. Property owners might have more control over building design and land management, but renters themselves can make simple changes to their space and lifestyle to achieve lower costs and lower energy usage.

Sam Radbil is a contributing member of the marketing and communications team at ABODO, a renter-focused apartment listing app. ABODO was founded in 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. And in just three years, the company has grown to more than 30 employees, raised over $8M in outside funding and helps more than half a million renters find a new home each month.

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1 http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=11731
2 https://energy.gov/articles/energy-department-launches-new-manufacturing-usa-institute-
    focused-recycling-and-reusing

3 http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2010/03/q-a-how-much-can-i-save-by-replacing-
    incandescent-bulbs-with-cfls/index.htm

4 https://energy.gov/energysaver/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips
5 http://home.howstuffworks.com/green-living/conserve-energy-plastic-insulation.htm
6 https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home
7 http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/sites/jchs.harvard.edu/files/ch_1_rental_housing_demand_from_
    americas_rental_housing_2015_web.pdf

i https://pixabay.com/en/recycling-bins-recycle-environment-373156/
ii https://pixabay.com/en/green-waste-compost-compost-bin-513609/
iii http://www.freeimages.com/photo/apartments-1204257 - Icon




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