In this column, staff at the Center for EcoTechnology offer advice on easy ways for people -- and businesses -- to introduce green changes in their daily lives. For the past 37 years, CET has helped people and businesses in Massachu setts save energy and reduce waste. Send Go Green questions to: Emily.gaylord@ cetonline.org.
Often, we hear from people who want to make green changes in their lifestyle, but feel limited because they live in an apartment.
Q: I saw your column about composting for renters (vermicomposting), but what else can I do?
A: There are so many ways to go green when you live in an apartment. Here are our top five ways for renters to embrace energy saving tips.
n Get rid of those vampires. Leaving your chargers, computers, hair products, and electronics plugged in can have an enormous impact on the energy you use. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy notes that a cell phone charger with no device plugged in consumes "0.26 watts of energy when not in use, and 2.24 watts even when a fully charged device is connected to it." Invest in power strips that will allow you to discontinue energy flow to multiple suckers with a quick switch. If you're feeling like taking it a step further, grab a smart power strip.
n Light up. Incandescent bulbs use 90 percent of their energy on heat -- not light, a huge waste of energy. Replace them with compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, and you'll save money on your energy bill each month and reduce your energy use. CFL bulbs use a quarter of the energy of incandescent and last up to 10 times longer. LED bulbs have an even bigger impact -- 50 times longer than an incandescent. You can find energy-efficient bulbs in a number of stores.
n Become a programming genius! Pay attention to your thermostat. Setting it 8 degrees lower in the winter and 5 degrees higher in the summer when you're away or sleeping can have a tremendous effect on how much energy you save. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, "recent research suggests that for each degree you turn down your thermostat over an eight-hour period, you can reduce your heating costs by 1 percent or more."
n Rack on. Get a drying rack to cut down on your electric bill and energy use. Use drying racks for clothes and dishes when possible. Bonus! When you air dry clothes they last longer and you reduce the risk that they will shrink.
n Be a passive roommate. Use passive solar to grow plants and boost your spirits. The sun is a great free resource that you can use to grow decorative plants, grow a small herb garden, and bask in it to boost your spirits.
Are you a go green renter? Find the Center for EcoTech no logy on social media and tell us about how you made your apartment an energy saving, waste reducing, power house. Pun intended.