As Bob Dylan once sang, the times they are a-changin’! While huge houses and gas-guzzling cars were once all the rage, energy-saving smaller houses, apartments, and compact (or no) cars are the current trend. With everyone growing more environmentally aware, many people are looking for ways to green their spaces or move to an eco-friendly apartment. Here are 10 tips to make your apartment more eco-friendly.
1. Install a Programmable Thermostat
One of the pluses of eco-friendly apartment strategies is that many of them save you money on your utilities, and buying a programmable thermostat for your apartment is no exception. These kinds of thermostats learn your energy use patterns to help you be more efficient (like automatically turning the thermostat down in the middle of winter weekdays so your home isn’t being heated at full blast while everyone is gone).
2. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
While we constantly hear this mantra of green living, much of today’s focus is only on recycling — this despite the fact that across the U.S., recycling programs are in trouble. This is why it makes sense to focus on reducing items like single-use plastics. Many people are turning to reusable beeswax wraps in lieu of plastic wrap and bar soap and shampoo bars instead of products that come in plastic bottles.
3. Green Your Pet
Another eco-friendly apartment strategy is to green your pet. This includes doing things like picking up your dog’s poop (using biodegradable bags) and buying plastic-free toys and pet accessories. This will reduce your carbon footprint… or paw print in this case.
4. Pay Attention to Your Plumbing
Plumbing fixtures can be a real source of water waste, whether you have a troublesome toilet that won’t stop running or a shower head that uses loads of water. Make sure to address any leaks or plumbing problems and consider replacing your shower head with a low-flow model that will conserve water.
5. Utilize Fans
As the mercury rises, using fans throughout your apartment can help you resist the urge to turn down the thermostat. If your apartment comes equipped with ceiling fans, make sure you’re using them. For apartments without pre-installed fans, you can snag a few portable ones or ask your landlord if they’d approve of you having ceiling fans installed.
6. Hang Insulated Curtains or Shades
Thermal curtains or shades might sound like a marketing ploy, but they work so well that the U.S. Department of Energy has an entire section on their website devoted to educating people about them. They trap heat inside in the winter and keep it outside in the summer. Best of all, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes — from blinds and roller shades to curtains and drapes — so there’s a thermal window option for virtually every apartment.
7. Change Out Your Light Bulbs
Although energy-efficient or high-efficiency light bulbs are a bit more of an investment than the old school ones, the savings are significant. LED bulbs are the current frontrunners in the eco-friendly bulb race, although CFLs are another good (and less expensive) option. You’ll save the world and money on your electricity bill.
8. Keep Your Balcony Garden Pesticide-Free
Helpful pollinators like bees are currently dying off at an astonishing rate, and one of the reasons why is the use of pesticides. While having a balcony garden is a wonderful hobby and source of herbs and fresh veggies, make sure to use bee-friendly compounds to discourage pests.
9. Be Smart About Your Water
According to ContainerRecycling.org, more than 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away each day in the U.S. alone. Change starts with each individual, so be a part of that change by refusing to buy in. Use a filtered water pitcher in your apartment kitchen and carry a reusable water bottle with you when you go out.
10. Use Environmentally-Friendly Cleaning Products
Our final eco-friendly apartment living tip: be earth smart about the way you clean your apartment. This means being conscious of using harsh cleaners that will pollute the air and the water supply. Many people opt for easy-to-find products like baking soda for scouring and a mixture of vinegar and water for wiping down everything from countertops to mirrors.
Although any one of these items may seem like a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things, if each person makes a number of small changes to green their apartments and homes, imagine how those small items add up!