We generate more than 250 million tons of solid waste each year, adding to landfills and wasting resources, according to the EPA. Solar cells and rainwater collection systems are trendy ways for families to live a greener lifestyle, but if you live in an apartment your options for home improvement are limited. If you want to teach your kids how to leave a smaller carbon footprint, leading by example is an excellent start. The following advice will help everyone treat the environment with a little more respect.
Change Light Bulbs
Something as simple as changing light bulbs can show significant savings in your energy bill each month. If you're still using incandescent bulbs, switch them out to CFL bulbs or the newer LED version. These bulbs use a tiny percentage of the power that older bulbs do and give just as bright a light. As a bonus, most of these light bulbs are designed to last years, making them a bargain in more ways than one.
Kill the Vampires
Vampire energy is power used by appliances that are plugged in but not in use. A number of appliances draw power as long as they are plugged in, and aren't really turned off as their switch might suggest. Unplug huge power wasters such as your stereo system and television when they're not being used, as well as smaller ones like coffee makers, microwave ovens and even blow dryers. You can expect to experience a $100 savings a year or more, depending on the number of appliances you own.
Choose Your Apartment Wisely
One of the best ways to save energy while living in an apartment is to find a home for your family that helps you to save money. Larger homes naturally cost more to heat and cool than smaller ones, so choose the smallest apartment that's comfortable for your family to live in. The location of your apartment can make a big difference, too. For instance, if you're searching for Boston apartments at ForRent.com, look for examples near MBTA stops for convenient public transportation options. Using the train, bus and subway for your daily commute can save huge amounts of fossil fuels each year, and is a great way to teach your children about environmental responsibility.
Get Rid of the Draft
Older apartment buildings often have air leaks around windows and doors. If you leave these leaks untouched it's like letting energy flow freely out the window. Save energy and money easily by fixing the leaks and stopping the draft in your apartment by filling in the cracks with caulk. In the winter, cover single-pane windows with a layer of plastic or bubble wrap to prevent heat loss through the glass. Spend an afternoon on a project with the kids making long tubes of fabric and fill them with sand or kitty litter. Then place these tubes against the bottom of a door to prevent a draft from coming in.
Tracie works for a home magazine, where she writes about home design trends. She loves polka-dots and french cabinetry.