Living Green In An Apartment

Living Green In An Apartment Living green in an apartment is easier then you think. First of all, you’re probably already living in a relatively energy efficient living arrangement (limited rooms, limited space to heat, shared walls). Secondly, limited living square footage, limits consumption – which is a key factor in another’s carbon footprint.

So in an apartment, typically one of the largest contributors to your personal CO2 output and your resulting carbon footprint are your heating and cooling habits.

You can manage how warm you keep your apartment in a  smarter way without being uncomfortable or even noticing it. Just because you do not own the place or may not directly pay the heating  and cooling bills, its still a critical responsibility as a worldwide citizen to keep your carbon footprint as small as you can.

Around the global, temperatures are setting new records.  Its more and more unbearable in various parts of the world.

Tennis play at the Australian Open was recently interrupted by excessive temperatures.  Zoo animals are being fed frozen treats (ice-cold fish for pandas) to help them stay cool.   Urban apartment dwellers are cranking down the temperature to stay cool.

We are an energy dependent worldwide society and becoming more so every day.   More energy consumption leads to a larger carbon footprint. Heating and cooling systems account for as much as 50% of all residential energy use.

That’s HUGE !

There are a number of ways apartment dwellers can manage their homes with or without the help of their landlords.  After all, its your comfort we’re talking about, your electric bill, and your carbon footprint.

Green Blizzard Suggestions For Living Green In Your Apartment

Give these suggestions some consideration and pick one or two and act on it.

Dial Back The Thermostat – Aim to start set the thermostat to 75 degrees in the summer and 65 degrees in winter.  Green Blizzard say “aim” because most people if they are used to warm apartments where they can walk around barefoot in the winter, cannot quickly adjust to a cooler winter temperature.   The key here is do it gradually, maybe dial it back a degree every two months and keep at it over two or three winter seasons.   Your body will gradually adjust and hardly notice one degree increments.

Install Your Own Programmable Thermostat –  If your apartment has one of those simple, round thermostats, consider replacing it during your stay in this apartment. These days Honeywell and others manufacture some great, inexpensive units that you can pick-up online or at a nearby hardware store.   They even have terrific customer service where you can call them up, tell them how many wires and colors of the wires and they’ll walk you through the installation as you attach the connections.   Its a pretty incredible service actually, I was really impressed when I tried it.    With the program feature, you can dial it back when you’re at school, or work, or away and save millions of CO2 particles from being emitted into the atmosphere for no good reason.   When you move, you can reinstall the old junker that was there.

Drape Your Windows – Blinds and heavy cloth curtains or drapes are ideal for blocking out cold air in the winter and heat in the summer. Window treatments can cut energy required to heat a residence by as much as 25%.   In the colder months, pull them close in the late afternoon as the sun is going down and if you have direct sunlight to your windows – open them wide in the daytime to let the sun’s radiant warmth come in.   If you are away, just leave them closed around the clock.

Shower The Navy Way –  See the Green Blizzard article on how to save hot water when you shower.  Speak to your landlord about reducing the water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees to reduce the amount of energy required to heat water.

Seal Air Leaks – Caulk around windows to fill in any cracks. Also, install a self-stick door bottom sweep to block wasteful airflow. And, when you are ready to move, the door sweep can easily be removed.Consider: in many homes, air can enter and leave through the door without it ever being opened!  Bend down, get low and look under your doors.  If you can see light, then air is constantly flowing in/out of your apartment.   That’s party why it always feels colder near your door in the winter months.

Change Your Air Filter – If you have an air exchanger in your apartment, that means you have direct control over your heating and cooling. Ask your landlord about changing your air filter every month – get a few months supply from him.  Replacing the filter will improve air flow and so, reduce the amount of energy required for heating and cooling.   Your heating and cooling units will not have to work as hard and as long if the air is flowing easily.  These units were designed for easy airflow and struggle if they have to continually push air through a clogged filter

Fireplaces – If you have a working or non-working fireplace in your unit, make sure the chimney flue its closed off.  Chimney flues are notorious for poor fits around the closure and leak like a sieve.   Any cracks around a closed flue, let the heat drift right up the chimney and on cold nights, drift right down into your living space.

If you live in an apartment where heat is included and always blasts, talk to your super and dialing it back in your unit.   Have you ever walked through an urban area and noticed apartment windows open in the winter months?   That’s because the building superintendent is erring on the high side and blasting the heat (drying you out, or rather baking you) just to minimize the complaints. There are dials and adjustments within the building that can be made to bring the temperature more in line with a sustainable lifestyle.  

Other Green Blizzard articles you’ll want to check-out:  Bike Share.


About the author

Danielle Jappah

Danielle brings a touch of southern US charm to our writing team.Since points of view on climate change vary depending on resources, economies, and political viewpoints of the region, we wanted a southerner to expand our point of view. The U.S. South has its own unique POV on climate change and Danielle writes from her office in Atlanta inspiring southern naysayers to wake up and recognize what happening everywhere.