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Environmental Series Part III: Tenants and the Environment

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The third and final part of our environmental series focuses on things tenants can do to reduce their daily carbon footprint. There are countless actions you can take to green your apartment and to keep the green in your pockets. Check out some of these easy and beneficial changes below!

Monitor your energy consumption with the utility company: Electrical companies are providing tools to get the green-movement rolling. ComEd (Chicago) has a new promotion called “Save Energy with Your Friends,” that allows you to compare your energy bill with friends and family using the Social Energy Tool. The tool monitors your energy use and also prepares a personalized energy plan. Start a friendly competition to see who can use less energy per month! You will not only save yourself money, but also have fun at the same time.

Be smart with your trash: According to the annual Municipal Waste Study completed by the EPA, in 2010 Americans generated about 250 tons of waste and recycled about 34% of the total contribution. Most of this waste, 55%-65%, came from homes and apartments alone. Being smart about waste disposal is easy and cost effective. Waste removal companies like Veolia help make reducing environmental toxins associated with trash easy. In most states, you can receive a cash deposit back for recycling cans and bottles which can really add up. Be smart about other forms of waste, like plastic water bottles and shopping bags. Invest in reusable forms of both- they’re trendycheap and environmentally sound.

Give yourself an audit: Ouch! Sounds painful. It’s not. With great companies such as Verde, which provides an iPad app to check out your energy use and offers suggestions to save the environment and money, it’s not only pain-free but fun. Verde’s App guides you through each of the different energy uses in a typical home and offers suggestions to reduce that usage. The average Verde user saves between $72 and $200 per year by following the “green” suggestions from within the app. The app is free to download, so check it out now!

Some smart savings suggestions: The following tips will seem like common sense, but most of us are guilty of breaking these suggestions.

  • Close windows and doors when you’re not entering/leaving your apartment. Also close your chimney flute/chute when you’re not using your chimney. Don’t let warm air escape for no reason in the winter and keep cool air inside in the winter. Cost: Free! 
  • If your doors are old and frail, you can get a draft guard for just a few dollars. Keeping air where it needs to be and at a consistent temperature can save you upwards of 10% on your utility bill. Cost: Less than $20.00
  • Consider buying and using timers for lights that you regularly forget to turn off. These are good for garages, attics, basements, closets, or potentially common areas that you may share with other tenants. Timers can also be used on devices and appliances. Cost: Less than $20.00
  • Invest in power strips and extension cords that use less power to fuel appliances. Even when a device such as your T.V. is off, it’s still feeding off your power supply. These “smart” power strips cut power to devices that aren’t being used and automatically direct power back again when you do need it. Not only will these save you money on your utility bill, but most of these come with surge protectors and other conveniences to protect your devices. Cost: Less than $20.00
  • Upgrade your lightbulbs to energy efficient bulbs. You may not realize this, but the energy used on a regular lightbulb costs between 5 to 10 times the purchase price of lightbulb itself. This kind of lighting can comprise upwards of 25% of a typical utility bill. Efficient lightbulbs use about 1/30 the power of a regular lightbulb, last up to 10 times longer, are more durable, are mercury-free, and don’t burn as hot (think of your fingertips next time you need to replace a bulb). Cost: $5 per bulb.
  • User dimmer switches on your lightbulbs if you don’t need them to be full brightness all the time. These are incredibly easy to install and cost $5 for each dimmer.
  • Keep your fridge full. Not only will you not go hungry, but the items in your fridge help keep the fridge cooler each time you open the door. Rather than cool air easily escaping, the cold stays inside requiring less energy to constantly re-frigerate. Getting low on groceries, consider just putting jugs of water in your fridge. Water stays cold longer than air. Cost: Free!

So, why wouldn’t you want to be green, especially if it’s saving you money!? For some more inspiration check out our Pinterest board, Tenants Go Green. Do the socially responsible thing- and get ready to reap the economic benefits.


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