small space, big impact

There may not be a lot to love about apartment living, but it does have perks! It's possible to be eco-friendly in a temporary space.

Before moving into a house earlier this year, I spent almost five years living in apartments, both with a roommate and by myself. I found it pretty easy to be efficient and eco-conscious.

Check out a tour of my former living room and all its green qualities!

How can you go green in your own rental space?

Switch out light bulbs with energy efficient CFLs or LEDs. Chances are, your apartment's lighting will come with incandescent bulbs - a drain on utilities and your wallet. Invest in enough energy efficient light bulbs for all your fixtures and switch them out - but keep the old ones stored away. When you later move out, you can switch them back (unless you want to pay it forward for the next renter!) And use energy efficient bulbs in your own lighting.

Conserve energy by adjusting your thermostat. Stay conservative with your heating and cooling so your unit doesn't run as often, and you'll notice a big savings on your utility bill. Even adjusting a couple degrees makes a difference, so you don't have to be uncomfortable. Most apartments are probably a bit better off than homes, if there's only one wall that has windows. How low can you get your utility bill?? I think one of my lowest was $23!

Invest in thermal curtains. You can always take curtains with you, and thermal curtains will always be beneficial, no matter where you live. They make such a difference on heat from the sun coming in through windows, and they help block out light, whether from the sun or those parking lot lights.

Maintain a container garden. Small pots with herbs or vegetables fit well on small patios, provide what you need and make your outside space look way better than your neighbor's.

Be water smart. Run the dishwasher only when it's full. Don't leave the faucet running while you hand wash dishes or brush your teeth. Take efficient showers or baths. Whether you've got your own washer and dryer or you use the complex's facilities, wash full loads in cold water and dry when it's not peak energy hours (especially during the summer).

Pick up secondhand furnishings. You can find great used furniture or decorations online or at local shops, for much cheaper than buying new. Use them while you're renting, and sell or donate when you move to a house if you don't want to take them with you.

Use green cleaners. From brands like Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyer's to homemade cleaners, you'll avoid harsh chemicals, which is especially great if you have children or pets in your apartment.

Get a recycling bin. Not all apartments have their own recycling service, but you can still collect your recyclables. It may take more dedication if you have to drive your collection somewhere to drop off, but it's worth it. I'll be doing a post in January that focuses on recycling at Lafayette apartment complexes!

So you may not be able to install solar panels or boost your home's insulation, but there are many ways you can go green in your temporary home!

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