by MARNÉ AMOGUIS
With spring here, now is the perfect time for some home improvement and upgrades. If you’re trying to live a more sustainable life, consider the types of upgrades you can make around your home to decrease your carbon footprint and save a little money on your utility bills while you do it. Of course, upgrading your home becomes more difficult if you’re a renter, and the odds are that your lease agreement prohibits significant updates to your rental without written permission from your landlord. Luckily, you can be more sustainable in an apartment, but it will take a little more creativity.
Here are sustainable renter-friendly upgrades you can make today.
1. Paint Your Walls
Most landlords allow you to paint your walls as long as you paint them back before moving out. You can upgrade your space by giving every room a new coat of paint to get rid of cracks and marks or to give your room a whole new look. In addition, you can paint sustainably by reducing your waste throughout the process and opting for recycled materials, including recycled paint.
When shopping for paint, look for certified eco-friendly labels for minimal impact on the environment. You can also find recycled paint or purchase mistints, so they don’t go to waste. Then, when you’re finished, give away any leftover paint so that someone else can use it instead of throwing it away.
2. Upgrade Your Windows
Upgrading your windows can help you insulate your home, which results in lower utility bills and less energy consumption. You can upgrade your windows by cleaning them so the natural sunlight can heat your home without the need for your system to kick in. Additionally, you can caulk the window panes to keep the cold out and fill any cracks. As a renter, it’s best to find a calk that will easily peel off when you move out.
Finally, you can also switch to heavier curtains to help insulate the windows so no drafts can leak into your home.
3. Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
If your washing machine, dryer, and dishwater aren’t labeled as energy-efficient, they probably aren’t. While most landlords opt for the cheapest appliances, some are willing to pay more to appease their tenants. If you want energy-efficient appliances, ask your landlord if you can purchase one using your own money. Some landlords might be willing to let you use new appliances as long as they make sense for your space. However, you might have to replace the old appliances for a new tenant when you move out.
If your landlord doesn’t let you replace your appliances, you can also choose to use them more efficiently. For example, you should only run the dishwasher when it’s completely full to reduce water usage. Do the same for your water and dryer to make your appliances more efficient, even if they aren’t.
4. Open Up Your Space
Reducing clutter provides your home with better airflow so that hot air from your heating system can easily penetrate your entire home. Leaving large items and clutter in the middle of rooms prevents warm air from reaching you, resulting in you turning up the heat when you don’t have to. You can open up your space by storing your stuff instead of keeping it in your home or by donating old furniture that you don’t use. By reducing cluttuer and organize your vitamins, office supplies, and collection of nick nacks, you’ll be able to focus more on your space rather than the clutter within it.
5. Use LED Light Bulbs
LEDs can give your apartment lighting a complete upgrade, allowing you to choose which rooms and areas should have brighter or dimmer light. They also use 75 percent less energy and last longer than incandescent bulbs. LEDs initially come at a higher price point, but they can help you save money on utility bills. Not only that, but because LEDs last longer, you won’t need to buy as many, which means less waste in landfills.
6. Consider Solar
Many companies sell solar panels specifically for apartments. However, it might be difficult to power your entire apartment with solar energy. Instead, you can use solar to reduce your impact on the electrical grid and use less energy overall. But, of course, using solar in your apartment is a difficult task that you’ll need to discuss with your landlord.
7. Fix Leaks
If you have a faucet that leaks, you’re wasting water. You can easily fix leaks on your own or ask the maintenance man to fix your leaky pipes to help you avoid wasting water when you’re not even using it.
8. Get A Low Flow Showerhead
Your apartment probably comes with a basic showerhead that’s inefficient and wastes water. If you want to reduce your water waste, you can upgrade your showerhead to one that’s low-flow. Low-flow showerheads use less than two gallons of water per minute to drastically reduce how much water you use. The best news is you don’t have to sacrifice water pressure, either. Many low-flow showerheads are designed to give you the same amount of water pressure with a fraction of the water waste.
9. Re-Organize Your Closet
We all love to neglect organizing and maintaining our closets. By keeping your closet messy, you may not realize how much space you actually have to work with. By organizing your running shoes and separating your nice clothes from your workout wear, you’ll know exactly where to find everything. You’ll also be able to do some spring cleaning and make room for other items or new clothes!
10. Get A Recycling Bin
Every apartment should have a recycling bin in its kitchen. You can also tape a list of items that can be recycled on it, so you never forget. Keeping a recycling bin in your home will increase your likelihood of recycling. However, many apartment complexes don’t offer recycling receptacles near the dumpsters, so recycling while living in an apartment can be difficult. Don’t worry; even if your complex doesn’t provide on-site recycling, you can still recycle bottles and cans every time you go to the grocery store.
You can also speak with your landlord about providing you with recycling bins on-site so that residents can recycle easily. If your landlord knows that the tenants are interested in eco-friendly amenities, they might be willing to provide you with a way to recycle.
Sustainable Upgrades For Renters
Unfortunately, apartment complexes can be some of the least eco-friendly places to live. However, you can live more sustainably and begin reducing your carbon footprint with a few changes. If there are ways you believe your apartment complex can be more sustainable, consider writing a letter to your landlord or the management company to let them know your concerns. Highlighting the benefits of sustainable amenities for renters and landlords can help your landlord understand the importance of sustainable practices.
Marné Amoguis holds a B.A. in International Business from UC San Diego. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing. Outside of writing, she loves traveling, playing music, and hiking.