The Green Apartment

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roger_mommaerts on flickr
Tips to Save Water and Power

Solar panels, programmable thermostats and STAR appliances—when it comes to being green, homeowners seem to have all the fun! But there are simple ways that apartment dwellers can make their living spaces more green as well.

Search for Green
If you are in between places or getting ready to move, you can make your apartment home more environmentally-friendly by keeping sustainability and efficiency top of mind during your search. Look for energy efficient appliances, and if possible, call the energy company to see what the average energy costs were for the previous year. This can help you weigh both the efficiency of the apartment and your final costs.

Keep in mind that being green doesn't just happen inside—think about location too. By picking an apartment that is close to bus lines or near your work and school, you might be able to reduce the amount of fossil fuels you burn while traveling. While searching for a new pad, use a comprehensive rental listings site so that you can investigate the sustainability of the place before you take the tour. Keep in mind environmentally-conscious exterior features like trees and shrubs for shade in the summer and interior features such as expansive windows for natural warmth in the cooler's Amplified Apartments offers ideas for incorporating eco-friendly features like light-filled spaces into your interior design.

If a move is not in your future, the following ideas are easy to integrate into any apartment home.

Whether you're responsible for the water bill, you can still take efforts to reduce your water consumption. A water bottle in the toilet tank is a great place to start. A large water bottle filled with water will displace some of the water in your tank and allow your tank to flush with less water. You can also save water by fitting your sinks and shower with water-saving spouts.

A ceiling fan uses between 15 to 100 watts depending on its speed setting; an air conditioner, in contrast, uses between 2,000 to 5,000 watts. Ceiling fans can be easily attached to an existing light fixture, and they will keep you cool in the summer and move warm air during the winter. A new one can cost as little as $50 from your local hardware store.

If warm air is seeping out of windows and cracks, you can solve the problem with a caulk or sealant, expanding foam, and a window insulation kit from your local hardware store. Use the expanding foam to fill any large holes—this is especially important if you live in an old home or apartment where you might even see a bit of sky in your cracks. Caulk is perfect for small cracks especially around the windows, and for less than $10, a window insulation kit provides you with everything that you need to seal your windows with plastic for the winter.

Your unused computers and TVs drain power while you sleep, but you can thwart them with a power strip. Instead of plugging your power-hogging devices into the wall, plug them into a power cord, and turn it off at the end of the night.

Christina Whitcomb is a certified life coach earning a degree in mind/body psychology. She promotes well-being and freedom from dis-ease from her home in the Pacific Northwest.

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