Saving Energy: Yes, You Can Green Your Rental Saving Energy: Yes, You Can Green Your Rental
The Planet

Saving Energy: Yes, You Can Green Your Rental

by Allison Arieff Keith Scharwath

January 25, 2011

Green renovations. Green retrofits. Green architects. Green design. There’s endless talk of the seemingly infinite options for improving the energy efficiency of your home—provided you own it. But what if you rent?

There’s still a lot you can do, according to the architect Eric Corey Freed, who, as author of the recent book Green$ense for the Home: Rating the Real Payoff from 50 Green Home Projects, is the go-to guy for energy-saving solutions. Green buildings and energy efficiency does not have to be solely for homeowners, he states. “Renters can also seize opportunities to save energy and money with some simple projects.”

While your landlord may not be interested in helping cut your utility bills, there are easy and inexpensive projects you can do to cut energy use. In colder climates, renters could see their heating bills drop by as much as 50 percent if they use these simple methods. So stop blaming your landlord and get caulking.— Allison Arieff


Install a programmable thermostat (and program it) 

Time: 20 minutes 

Cost: $20

Caulk around windows 

Time: 60 minutes 

Cost: $6

Shrink-wrap your windows in winter

Time: 30 minutes 

Cost: $15 

Turn down your hot-water heater  

Time: 2 minutes
Cost: free

Install curtains over south- and west-facing windows (in summer) 

Time: upwards of 45 minutes 

Cost: at least $45 per window 

Place draft snakes (or, the cheaper alternative, old towels) along front doorsill to stop drafts (in winter)

Time: 2 minutes 

Cost: free

Upgrade burned-out bulbs with compact fluorescents

Time: 20 minutes 

Cost: $20 per bulb 

Turn off lights and unplug equipment when not in use  

Time: 1 minute 

Cost: free

Or use simple light timers

Time: 5 minutes 

Cost: $10 per timer 

Set clothes dryer to cooler setting

Time: 0 minutes 

Cost: free

Wash dishes in cooler water

Time: 0 minutes 

Cost: free

Vacuum clean the coils under your fridge to make it run more efficiently

Time: 10 minutes 

Cost: free


Three slightly more involved fixes to parts of your home’s energy systems (that you may or may not have access to)

Set your hot-water heater no higher than 120 degrees. That’s plenty hot to blast the grime off your pans in the sink or the filth off of you in the shower.

Wrap your hot-water heater. There are ready-made, user-friendly DIY water-heater wrapping kits at any hardware store. This is the simplest and fastest payback step in cutting your home-energy use.

Get some ceiling fans. These are the most efficient home-climate comfort devices. With a ceiling fan, air conditioners can be switched off, or turned to warmer, less power-thirsty settings.

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Saving Energy: Yes, You Can Green Your Rental