Our friends at the ATA have run a feature in the latest edition of their ReNew magazine (Issue 142) about rental properties. Below are some energy saving tips for renters. We also have many hints and tips to help renters and those living in apartments to save. Please note that some of the advise below is trickier in an apartment than a free standing house, so be sure to visit our apartments page for specific advice.
Shade your windows
External shading of windows is one of the most effective ways to keep the heat out, so place a removable blind, shade cloth or outdoor umbrella over north- or west-facing windows in summer to shield them from the sun. If you want to attach a more permanent shade solution to the house, such as a shade sail, ask your landlord.
Internal window protection
For windows that still get hot in summer, place a covering on the inside of the glass such as Renshade, a foil-laminated cardboard that reflects radiant heat from the sun. Put it away at the end of summer, and take it with you to your next rental house.
Seal up gaps and draughts
Stop draughts by closing gaps around doors and windows. Self-adhesive door and window seals are cheap, easy to install and removable when you leave. Or you could use a ‘door snake’. Alternatively, ask your landlord if they will invest in permanent draught stoppers and seals around doors and windows. It is also worth checking around door and window frames and skirting boards.
Another common source of air leakage is through plumbing and gas entry points and around poorly fitting cabinetry. These can be easily fixed with sealant, although you will need to check with the landlord first.
Use heating and air conditioning wisely
Reducing the temperature on the thermostat of your heater or increasing it on your air conditioner by just 1°C can reduce the energy used by 10%. In summer, set your air conditioner to the highest comfortable temperature, which could be around 26°C.
Cool and heat the house naturally
On hot, still summer days close all windows, doors and curtains to help keep the house cool. Take advantage of that cool change by opening windows and doors to let the cooling breeze through the house. Ask the landlord to fix the windows if they’re stuck shut, and to install fly screens if this is a deterrent to opening the window.
Switch to energy-efficient lighting
In most cases you don’t need your landlord’s permission to change your globes over to LEDs. Most types of lights are now available as energy-efficient LEDs.
Check your water heater settings and install a Valvecosy
Make sure your water heater is set at the lowest comfortable setting which is 60 °C for a tank system, and 50 °C or lower for an instantaneous system. If it’s set too high it’s wasting energy. Insulate your hot water pipes and place a Valvecosy over the pressure-temperature relief valve of your hot water system to reduce heat loss. Invest in a super low-flow showerhead, such as a Methven Kiri, that you can take with you.
A renters guide: energy efficiency on a budget, ReNew 134
The new edition of the ATA’s Renter’s Guide to Sustainable Living will be out in March 2018.
DIY pelmets for renters
We all know we need to get smarter about how we use energy and, in much of Australia, heating is a large part of that energy use. Renters, especially, can have a hard time improving the heating efficiency of their homes. One thing that many houses lack is pelmets above the curtains/windows. Pelmets help keep warm air in during winter, but also help to reduce heat from getting in during summer. If you want to know the physics of how pelmets visit this website.
Here are some instructions on how to make inexpensive, lightweight pelmets that can be attached to the wall with tape—good for renters, as they don’t require drilling into the walls.
Materials you’ll need
Corflute is a cheap plastic board with a corrugated plastic centre which you may associate more with signs for real estate agents, elections and protests! It comes in sheets up to 2400 x 1200 mm and can even be bought in longer lengths off the roll. It comes in a variety of thicknesses but we will be using the standard 3 mm. It’s easy to cut and eminently foldable. You’ll also need something to attach the pelmet to the wall. Use tape or blutack that won’t leave a mark if you take the pelmets down when you leave.