If you are a first time homeowner, you know there are some easy ways to go green, but if you are an apartment dweller, what changes can you integrate that will make a difference?
Obviously, you can’t install solar panels on the roof of a building you don’t own, and if your complex only offers one set of dumpsters for trash and recycling combined, you may not be able to fix that problem. Even in an apartment, however, there are things you can do to go green and help the environment.
Greywater Action tells us that “greywater is gently used water from your bathroom sinks, tubs, and washing machines. It is not water that has come into contact with feces, either from the toilet or from washing diapers. Greywater may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and certain household cleaning products.”
Greywater can be used to irrigate your garden and water your plants, and there are new sophisticated systems available that capture greywater and allow it to go directly to your garden. While this works well in a home, and could also work in an apartment complex, it’s unlikely that your current residence will have a greywater system installed.
Nevertheless, you can manually capture shower and bathwater and use it on your plants. One Texas public talk radio host said that he kept a five-gallon pail in his tub to collect the shower water; he then carried it outside and dumped it in his garden. When a caller asked him why he subjected himself to the extra work he replied, “Because water is precious.”
Portable Solar Units
You can buy an inexpensive portable solar unit that can sit on any windowsill. The smallest will collect enough energy to light a small lamp or even power your computer. Some apartment residents take an entire room off the grid through the use of portable solar panels.
Regardless of the age of your unit’s heating system, you should petition your landlord to install a smart thermostat. By integrating this device with a smartphone app, you can control your unit’s HVAC systems remotely, and you can avoid overheating or overcooling your apartment while you are not there. For example, if you’re living in an Milwaukee studio apartment where temperatures can rise into the 90s, you’ll want to be sure that you have your thermostat under control.
Whether it is your responsibility to replace light bulbs or not, take the initiative to switch all incandescent bulbs to LEDs. LEDs are cheaper to operate, last much longer, and are becoming less expensive than there were even last year. Combined with a smart system, you’ll be amazed at the what you can do to control brightness and even hues.
Put a Brick In It
Yes, we’re talking about your toilet. By placing a brick in the tank, you will displace a significant water volume and your toilet will cost less each time you flush it.
Homeowners may have more readily accessible options for quickly installing eco-friendly systems and devices, but apartment owners can also do their part by following the five steps we have mentioned above.