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Renters Can Save Energy, Too!

27 July 2010

There are energy trade-offs to being a renter.  On average, renters tend to use less energy than homeowners because we typically have smaller living spaces and live in more urban areas with access to public transportation.  On the other hand, we renters may not be in control of our energy choices – for example, I can’t insulate my apartment, nor do I want to buy my landlord a new fridge.  I also have no control over my heat.  There are still ways that renters can help reduce energy waste in our homes and lower our utility bills!

You Have the Power. Most renters have our own electricity accounts, so that’s the place to start.  Installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, fighting phantom load and using good computer power management have direct impacts on our bills.  Smart cooling during the summer, like properly sized window ACs and using fans at night can also help reduce costs.

If you rent a house or duplex and also pay for water and space heating, there are a larger range of actions that help.  Washing all clothing in cold water, using a programmable thermostat and turning down your thermostat 2 degrees in the winter keep your family comfortable and help you cut back on utility costs.

Point A to Point B. Renters, we truly rock at alternative forms of transportation.  Taking advantage of Metro Transit, walking and biking are better for our bodies – and our pocketbooks!

Extra Bonus Karma Points. Unless you pay for your heating separately, the rest of energy efficiency actions are gravy – they help your building reduce energy use, but you may not see a direct impact on your bills.  But by taking action like signing up for wind power, recycling, composting and taking five minute showers, you are reducing energy waste – and that’s something to feel good about!

:: Minnesota Energy Challenge: Renters

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Melissa permalink
    27 July 2010 10:48 am

    Yes, it’s a good idea to use flourescent lightbulbs to save energy, but no one is talking about what happens after they burn out. Very few people know that they have trace amounts of mercury in them and that they are not supposed to be tossed in the garbage. Instead they are supposed to be recycled, but my curbside recycling doesn’t take them. I have a bag of these light bulbs that are supposed to last forever and no place to get rid of them. I’m thinking of just tossing them in the garbage like everyone else and contributing to the future problem of mercury in the landfill and water system because the energy saving bandwagon didn’t plan for the disposal of these super light bulbs.

    • 2 August 2010 8:19 am

      Melissa – I share your concerns about proper disposal of compact fluorescent light bulbs. Just so you know, you can recycle these bulbs for free at Menards, Home Depot and most local hardware stores. I know that there is a movement currently to make the language about recycling on CFLs clearer so more people are aware of the need to recycle them. And, keep in mind, CFLs are not a permanent lighting solution, but merely a bridging technology until mercury-free LED (light emitting diode) lights come down in cost and up in quality. Thank you for your comment, please let me know if you have any more questions!

  2. Carrie Wittenberg permalink
    2 August 2010 2:57 pm

    Ikea offers recycling for compact fluorescent bulbs as well!

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