You may feel limited by your building or by your lease, but the changes you can make to an apartment to make it greener while you live there don't have to be drastic. By making small and reversible changes, you can live in an environmentally-conscious space without moving!
Your Green Apartment Search
You can start 'green'-ing your living space from the get-go. Even if you can't find a green or LEED-certified building to live in, you can take stock of your new apartment's appliances and the building's policies to see if they comply with a green lifestyle. It's simple-- look for energy-saving appliances, water-saving showers and toilets in your potential apartment and compact fluorescent light bulbs in the building.
Does the building have a recycling program or outdoor gardens? Ask the representative showing you the apartment what they know about the building's green initiatives. Also, if you can speak with the current resident of the apartment, you might be able to get a feel for how open the building's management is to suggestions.
Also, check out your living space itself. Do you have windows that can provide enough light to illuminate the apartment during the day? Having an apartment with good lighting can keep your electric bills down by letting you conserve the amount of energy you need to light your space. Likewise, take notice of the temperature in the apartment while you are there and where it is located in the building. Does it seem drafty and like it might take a lot of energy to heat in the winter? Or perhaps it is on an upper floor of the apartment building, where heat will rise and lower the amount of energy you are forced to expend to heat your new place?
Also, living in an apartment close to your office, school or other places you travel to often helps you lead a greener lifestyle. If you can ride a bike or walk to the places you visit often, all the better! Having an understanding of the functionalities of your apartment can help you get started on the right foot.
Conserving Electricity in an Apartment
Beyond being conservative with the lights and appliances you leave on while you're at home, some simple choices can help you conserve electricity, lowering your utility bills and making your apartment more green.
- Changing your light bulbs. Using compact fluorescent bulbs in all of your lighting significantly lowers electricity use. Plus, they don't burn our nearly as quickly as incandescent bulbs, saving you the costs of new bulbs and the hassle of replacing them!
- Unplug appliances when they aren't in use. Many appliances use a small amount of power, even when they aren't in use. By simply unplugging the toaster, your computer, and your blow dryer when they aren't in use, you can conserve small amounts of energy that really add up. You can also plug them into a power strip and turn the power strip off when you aren't using the appliances.
- Air dry your dishes. Using the drying function on your dishwasher expends a lot of energy to achieve something that will occur naturally in a little more time. Allow your dishes to air dry and cut out that use of electricity in your home.
Conserve Natural Gas in an Apartment
- Use your thermostat wisely in the winter. You can program your thermostat to run at a cooler temperature during times when you aren't at home than at a warmer temperature when you are around. By only heating your home when you need to, you can lower your gas bill and to lead a greener lifestyle.
- Install a ceiling fan. A ceiling fan can help you cool and heat your home. Depending on which direction you set the blades to spin, you can help better disperse heat or air conditioning in your home. While a ceiling fan runs on electricity, the amount it can alleviate your air conditioner and heating usually pays off.
- Put weather stripping on your doors and windows. To help your apartment retain heat during the winter, make sure your windows and doors are not letting warm air escape! Weather stripping is an easy project you or your building's maintenance can do to make the best use of your heat.
By picking a friendly space and making small adjustments to it, you can live a greener lifestyle, even if your apartment building isn't already a green space. Whether you are an environmental crusader or just using your common sense to save money, you can benefit from making your living space a little more green.