Environmental tips for renters

Camille Condon
Summary 
There are some simple changes you can make for your rental home to be more environmentally friendly. These changes can also save you money on your electricity, gas and water bills. You may need to buy some cheap items but you can then take these to your next home. Thick curtains help keep a room warm and the cold outside. Switch off electrical goods when you're not using them. Have quicker showers and wash your clothes in cold water. Call your landlord or property manager if you need repairs done. Take notice of your daily habits and see where you can make changes.
Posted by: 
Camille Condon on 26/07/2012
A shower head with water running.
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Reduce the length of your showers.

When living in a rental property there are limitations on what can be done to make your home more environmentally friendly. But there are a few simple changes you can make without upsetting the landlord and that won't cost a fortune.

In some cases it may just simply mean a change in habits. These changes can help you to save money on your energy bills in the long term. Anything you may need to purchase to reduce your costs can be taken with you to your next rental property.

I spoke with Cate Lawrence from Green Renters, a not-for-profit organisation that offers sustainability advice for renters. I asked Cate to share her top five environmentally-friendly money saving tips.

Draught proofing

Door snakes are cheap to buy or you can make them yourself if you're a little bit crafty. They are very easy to move around the house to seal up draughts.

For windows, thick insulated curtains are the best option. Ask friends or family if they have any that they're not using, or look for second-hand curtains at op shops.

You can also use insulating removable films that are applied to the glass, and you can seal up any gaps with barrier tapes.

If you are only using one room close its doors and only heat that room, rather than the entire house.

Reduce hot water usage

One of the biggest energy costs in the home is heating hot water. It may be possible to turn down the temperature of your hot water depending on the type of hot water system you have.

Try to reduce the length of your showers, and only wash clothes in cold water.

Leaking taps fall under the category of emergency repairs, so if you have a leaking hot water tap that is costing you money be sure to call for a repair as soon as you notice it.

Save power

Try to switch off appliances rather than leaving them on standby. Powerpoints may not be accessible, so invest in energy saving powerboards. Some powerboard brands even have remote control access, making them simpler to use.

Check the wattage of your appliances. An appliance with a low kilowatts per hour rating is more energy efficient than one with a high kilowatts per hour rating. Some local libraries loan out power monitors that let you work out the energy consumption of your appliances.

Utilise natural lighting wherever possible and make sure to turn off lights when leaving a room.

Engage with other renters, use local resources

There may be community groups running free workshops in your area that will assist you in learning new skills and meeting other renters.

Consider buying staples such as rice, flour, and fruit and vegetables in bulk and share them with friends and neighbours to save money and packaging waste.

Plant some potted herbs on your windowsill or in your garden and enjoy fresh herbs all year round. Swap them with your neighbours.

Talk to you landlord or property manager

A dripping tap or leaky gas oven not only wastes energy, it could also be dangerous. Don't be afraid to speak up and ask for repairs to take place. If you can't ask for help yourself, then ask a friend or family member to assist.

You can research rules and regulations by visiting the Tenants Union website, your local council, or Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Resources

Most local councils provide environmental and energy saving advice for residents, along with information about gas and electricity providers and water suppliers.

You may also find they offer a free energy saving audit along with water-saving showerhead and light bulb exchange programs.

The Victorian Save Energy website is also a great resource.

Save Energy

Green Renters

Tenants Union of Victoria

Consumer Affairs Victoria

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