Saving energy can be tough when you don’t have the ability to make big changes to your home. Tenants may be stuck with a rickety stove, gas heating or inefficient appliances.
With that in mind, we’ve put together ten tips for tenants to save energy, reduce their emissions and save money. These tips focus on things that tenants can usually control. Many of them are low-cost or free, and will result in lower utility bills.
1. Know where your impact comes from.
Project Neutral is an online tool that helps you measure your carbon footprint and make commitments to lower it. This tool can be helpful if you don’t know where to start! We know that people who are aware of their own impact feel more empowered to take steps to reduce it.
The tool will tell you the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in your life, and provide helpful specific tips on how to reduce those emissions.
2. Use shade to your advantage.
The residential sector accounts for 18% of emissions in Waterloo Region, much of this from heating and cooling. By reducing the need to use your heating and air conditioning, you can shrink emissions.
In the warm months, keep your blinds and curtains closed during the day and open at night. This will keep the light out during the day and make your unit cooler.
In the cold months, keep your blinds and curtains open during the day and closed at night. This will allow extra light in to help warm the unit.
Consider investing in thick black-out curtains as they will do a better job of keeping light and heat out of the room in the summer.
3. Adjust your thermostat setting.
If you have the ability to adjust your thermostat, you can take major steps towards energy efficiency by adjusting the settings.
Here are the recommended settings for maximum energy efficiency from Enova Power:
Winter: 20°C during the day, 18°C at night
Summer: between 24°C and 26°C
When you go on vacation, turn your thermostat down before you leave:
Summer: Turn air conditioner off or set thermostat to 28°C
4. Seal up drafty doors and windows.
Air leakage from doors and windows can be a major source of inefficiency, especially in the winter. The best solution is for your landlord to properly seal all doors and windows, but there are things you can do as a tenant to help prevent heat loss.
“Draft snakes” are long fabric tubes filled with a heavy material — sand or rice are used in DIY solutions. The tube is placed along the bottom of a drafty door, blocking a common source of air leakage. You can find them at any hardware store, or look online for tips on how to make your own.
5. Track your shower time.
Taking shorter showers can help reduce emissions from water heaters and saves water – two in one!
If you shorten your shower time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes, you can save 40 liters of water (while using a low-flow showerhead). This could also cut down on emissions from water heating if your building relies on fossil fuels.
6. Get rid of phantom power.
Devices like televisions, game consoles and some appliances can consume power even when they are not being used. Standby mode still consumes power. This is called “phantom power” and it can account for as much as 20% of your household’s overall energy use!
Saving energy here is as simple as switching off a power bar at night. You can also invest in a power bar with a built-in timer and set it to turn off while everyone is sleeping.
7. Replace your bulbs with LED.
LED light bulbs consume a fraction of the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs and last for years. If you pay for electricity, this tip can save you money because LED bulbs use 90% less energy than standard bulbs and last 15 times longer.
8. Keep your fridge and freezer running well.
Your fridge and freezer are among the big six appliances, and with a few simple steps you can have them running efficiently.
Make sure you defrost your freezer regularly and vacuum dust off the coils at the back of the fridge. These two steps, done every three months or so, can reduce energy consumption and extend the life of your appliances.
Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer. Energy Star recommends that fridges should be set between 2°C and 3°C (35°F to 38°F), and freezers at -18°C (0°F).
Freezers are most efficient when full, but not overloaded.
9. Practice smart oven and stove use.
Did you know that opening the oven to peek inside can allow 20 per cent of the heat to escape? It’s much more energy efficient to turn the light on and look through the window.
When cooking on a stove top, make sure you use the proper size pot for the burner. Consider cooking with a lid on – it can conserve heat and speed up cooking time
10. Dry your clothes naturally.
Over 45% of the electricity in an average home is consumed by six major appliances: refrigerator, freezer, stove, dishwasher, clothes washer and your dryer. Out of those six, the dryer is the easiest to replace with a zero-emissions solution: a clothesline or drying rack.
A foldable drying rack can make it easy to dry some clothes indoor year-round. In the summertime, you can move the rack on to the balcony and dry things there.
If you have outdoor space, putting up a clothesline can be a simple way to reduce your emissions.