We are living through the biggest property boom Australia has ever seen, and the cost of buying a house is unreachable for many. But renting doesn’t mean you have to stop being green! You may feel as if you have no control over certain things in your rental property, like water tanks, solar panels and space for gardening, but here are some things you can do to green up your rented home.
- Location – consider the location of your rental. Will it be near your work – does this mean you can potentially bike, walk or use public transport to get there? Being closer to places you frequent will obviously cut down on the amount of driving you have to do. Also keep in mind where you do your shopping — is there somewhere close by that you can walk to? Are there bus routes that might work?
- Size – is your home too large? The size of your home will also add to how much you spend on heating and cooling, both money-wise and in terms of carbon emissions. Try to find a rental property that fits your family’s needs, not necessarily wants! If you need help being convinced of this, just think: more rooms = more cleaning. Extra space might seem nice, but that could mean a rise in the time you spend vacuuming and dusting.
- Energy Offsets. Nowadays it is pretty normal to go into a rental and have to connect your own gas, electricity, phone line and internet provider. When selecting your suppliers, remember to choose ones that offer green options. For electricity, it’s easy to switch to a government-accredited Green Power option
- Weather Proofing – no more drafts! When moving into a new home it is always best to check for drafts or areas where the property will need a bit of weatherproofing. If you find there are drafty doorways, consider speaking to the landlord or real estate agent about the possibility of repairs. If not then you should grab some draft snakes such as this one by Julielion or make your own!
- Insulation. Check there is insulation in the ceiling before moving in. This will help keep the indoor temperature in your house stable through changing seasons, reducing the need to spend money on heaters and air conditioners. If there is none, you should speak to the landlord about having some installed.
- Being smart with heating and cooling. In some older rental places you may not have high star rated heating and cooling systems. In some cases, you may not have any! Make sure you dress appropriately for the weather in your home. In winter, bundle up in warm jumpers and socks. In summer, close your blinds or draw the curtains early in the morning so warm air doesn’t enter your house. Simple things like this will make your rental property much greener. Check out our 5 weird tips to reduce your winter energy bill for more ideas.
- Water saving devices. If your property only has older shower heads, consider replacing them with water-saving shower heads. These are simple to install, and when you leave you can pop the old one back on and take it with you to your new house. Make sure none of the taps leak, and repair or replace any drippy offenders. If your toilet is an older single-flush model, you can place a full milk or juice bottle in the cistern to reduce the volume of water it uses for a flush.
- Bathroom water saving. Take shorter showers — under 4 minutes. Limit time spent in the shower to soap up, wash down, and rinse off. Shorter showers save on energy costs associated with heating water. Shave your legs before you hop in the shower and then rinse off once you’re in. If possible, lower the default temperature on your water heater to the level of heat at which you take your showers. This saves energy, plus you’ll spend less time fiddling around with taps while the water runs.
- Recycling . Make sure you use your recycling bins. If there are no recycling options in your building, consider checking if any of your neighbours would mind if you used their bin. Be sure to ask first — there is nothing worse than being caught red-handed trying to stuff your household waste into someone else’s bin!
- Container gardening. If your’re renting an apartment or a property with no garden, make use of a container garden. You might not be able to produce a massive crop of potatoes, but herbs, flowers and small veggies like tomatoes are easy to grow in small spaces. There are many tutorials and DIY ideas out there for container gardens, and vertical gardening is really having a moment right now. Here are some good resources to check out:
Better Homes and Gardens – Container Gardens
My Green Australia Gardening Tips – Recycled coffee pod planters
VERTICAL VEGETABLES: “Grow up” in a small garden and confound the cats!
Milk Crate “Air-Pot” Urban Container Gardening
Urban Organic Gardener
- Lighting. When you first move in, it’s best to replace any older incandescent bulbs with newer energy-saving models. These are much better environmentally and also have a far longer lifespan. Make sure to switch off the light in rooms you’re not using.
- Reusing water. If you are not able to have a grey water system in your rental property, there are still a few things you can do. Keep a bucket in the shower that you can empty onto your garden. If you’re rinsing vegetables or fruits, keep a bucket in the sink and then empty this onto the plants.
- The three R’s – Make sure you continue to buy products in packaging that is recyclable, or made from recycled materials. Choose products that are reusable instead of disposable, and try to reduce the amount of stuff you buy in the first place!
Here are some great tutorials from SaveWater.com.au on simple home DIY. Make sure you speak to your landlord before doing any of these!
What are your ideas for renters who are trying to be green and environmentally friendly?
Thanks to My Green Australia for this post!
For rent – ABC
Potted herbs – Maggie Hoffman (CC)
Recycling – Steven Leith (CC)