Living sustainably isn't necessarily about big renovations and installations. Even if you are a renter, there are many things you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your home and live a more sustainable life, often without even needing to consult your landlord.
Sustainability tips for renters
1. Save water
Install a water efficient showerhead
A water-efficient showerhead uses 40 per cent less water, which will save you water, energy and money. The law is ambiguous as to whether or not you can do this without your landlord's permission, so keep the original showerhead so you can reinstall it when you move, if necessary. Free replacement of old showerheads, with water saving showerheads, is an eligible activity under the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) Scheme. Speak to your local water retailer to see whether they can do this for you.
Collect rainwater for your garden
From a bucket under a rust-hole in the guttering to a large, portable rain barrel from your local hardware store, there are many ways for renters to save water. You might even be able to get your landlord's permission to install a downpipe diverter.
Keep your showers short and sweet
A standard showerhead uses about 15 to 25 litres of water per minute. That's around 120 litres of water for an eight-minute shower. Install a water efficient showerhead and keep your showers short to save water and money.
2. Heat or cooling your home efficiently
Draught-proof your home
Draught-proofing stops warm air from escaping your home in winter and hot air from entering in summer, saving you money and making your home more comfortable. There are many inexpensive ways to draught-proof your home, including self-adhesive draught seal tape and draught snakes.
Zone your home
Minimise the area to be heated or cooled by closing doors to areas of your home that you're not using – 'zoning' your home. If your home is open-plan, you might be able to hang a blanket to section off unused areas. Some central systems will allow you to zone off areas from the control panel. If you have a ducted system, check the instruction manual to see how many ducts can be closed.
Minimise heat gain through your windows
It's better to stop the sun's heat from reaching the glass, than deal with the heat once it has entered your home. Consider shade cloth or bamboo blinds, or growing plants.
Get curtains and pelmets
A single pane of glass can lose almost 10 times as much heat as the same area of insulated wall. To keep your winter heat in, consider curtains and pelmets (like a scarf over the top of your curtain rod).
Get the right heater or fan
A high efficiency appliance will save energy and cost less to run. By choosing a system that's the right size for your rental property, you can avoid paying for energy you don't need. If you need to use plug-in electric heaters or fans, make sure they are the right size for your room and have a fan and thermostat. And don't forget to clean the vents and filters from time to time, to keep them working efficiently.
3. Control your lighting
Use lamps instead of downlights
You don't always need banks of downlights, which can over-illuminate rooms and increase your energy costs, potentially adding hundreds of dollars to your power bill every year.
4. Grow your own food
With a little thought and planning, you can grow beautiful and edible plants, even if you live in an apartment
5. Avoid food waste
Start composting (even if you don't have a garden)
Around half of our household garbage is made up of food and garden waste. Composting keeps food waste out of landfill and creates a useful product instead. Even if you are a renter living in an apartment, there are composting options for you.Check your composting options