Make your home more eco-friendly with these sustainable apartment ideas.
By Robert Helms
We’ve all heard the term “passive house.” It’s a new building design code that seeks to make homes more comfortable, efficient, and sustainable. It may be out of reach for the average apartment dweller, but here are some ways you can apply its concepts to your own apartment or condo, and make your living space more environmentally friendly
18 Sustainable Apartment Ideas
Grow Your Own Herbs, Veggies, or Flowers
Do you have some empty pots lying idle in your apartment? You can use them to grow plants indoors or on the balcony. If you don’t have pots, consider purchasing some new containers or sacks for this purpose. The advantages of growing your own food are many:
- It reduces your carbon footprint and saves money.
- Home-grown food may be healthier than store-bought food.
- Maintaining houseplants is super fun.
- Plants are beautiful and therapeutic.
Compost Your Food Waste
Composting is a great way to reduce waste and produce organic manure. If you have access to a backyard or a balcony garden and are willing to do some work, composting will help you big time. Composting involves building a pile of organic materials (such as kitchen scraps and food waste) that naturally decomposes into useful soil nutrients which you can use to boost plant growth. The process takes a few months — how long your compost takes depends on several factors, including the amount of heat in the pile, available moisture, and the nature of the materials you use.
Use Reusable Bags and Bottles
Reusable bags and bottles are an easy way to cut down on plastic waste. They’re better for the environment because you can recycle them more than once and reuse them—and the more you reuse them, the more money you save in the long run.
Buy Durable Items
Buy quality items that will last longer and won’t need to be replaced as often; the short-term satisfaction of buying cheap items won’t be worth the long-term effects it will have on the environment because you’ll dispose of them after a few months, get new ones, dispose of them again, and the cycle continues.
Ditch the Paper Towels
Paper towels and plastic bags are both bad for the environment. They take up a lot of space in landfills and they can be harmful to the environment if you throw them away improperly. It also takes massive deforestation to keep up with the world’s paper towel needs.
A better choice would be reusable towels because they’re more convenient than paper towels and you don’t need to worry about how many times you use them — you just wash and reuse them endlessly.
Recycle Correctly and Conscientiously
Things like metal, paper, and electronics can have a second life if recycled right. That’s why you should always think about recycling options before tossing such items in the trash bin. Here are some benefits of recycling household stuff:
- Recycling paper and cardboard saves trees from being cut down for new paper products or building materials. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for making paper products from scratch; recycling shortens the process of paper production.
- Reusing electronics instead of throwing them away gives us old components that we can use to keep old electronics running longer. It also prevents toxic elements like mercury from ending up in the environment. Recycling electronics results in savings because manufacturers produce new items cheaply. Plus, recycled electronics may function optimally just like new ones.
Go Paperless With Your Bills
Paperless billing is an excellent way to save paper and reduce your carbon footprint. You can also get some extra perks by switching to paper billing, including increased security and convenience.
Online bill pay is an easy way to keep track of all of your bills as you will need only a smartphone and an app to manage and settle all your bills at the click of a button. What’s more? There are plenty of online services that allow you to pay bills online.
Drink Tap Water Instead of Bottled Water
Tap water is safe to drink, and you can use it for everyday tasks like washing dishes or brushing your teeth. However, bottled water is expensive and comes with many health risks; it is full of chemicals, such as chlorine or fluoride, that are not present in tap water.
You should also consider the environmental impact of bottled drinks. We could save millions of plastic bottles by switching from bottled drinks to tap water.
Get a Water Filter
Use a water filter to reduce chlorine and other chemicals. Filters can help reduce the risk of exposure to toxins like lead, bacteria, and viruses. You don’t want your family drinking contaminated water, so ensure you have a way to filter out contaminants; otherwise, they will harm you.
Purchase More Efficient Appliances and Electronics
You can save money by buying energy-efficient appliances and electronics. Several labels help you choose an environmentally friendly product, including the Energy Star label, which means the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has certified it as being more efficient than similar products in its class. The EPA also has an EnergyGuide label for appliances with energy-saving features. The label helps you estimate an appliance’s energy consumption.
In lighting, LED lights are an excellent choice because they last longer than incandescent bulbs and use less power overall—so you’ll see your lighting bills go down. Plus, LED bulbs emit less heat than traditional incandescent bulbs, which means they don’t get hot enough to damage your home’s walls or furnishings. Finally, LED lighting emits little or no toxins, so it’s safe for your family.
Wash Clothes Using Cold Water
To save money and help the environment, turn your washing machine into a cold-water machine. Cold water is just as effective at removing dirt from clothes as warm or hot water, and it’s much cheaper.
Install a Water-Saving Toilet
A water-saving toilet uses 1-1.5 gallons per flush, while older toilets use 5-7 gallons of water. Modern showerheads also use less than you think! A standard showerhead uses 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM), but a water-saving showerhead uses only 2 GPM, according to the US EPA.
Install Low-Flow Showerheads or Aerators
If you want to save water and money, look for low-flow showerheads or aerators. These devices can help you reduce your water usage by up to 60%. The best part? They’re easy to install! You will need a few basic tools, like an adjustable wrench and pipe tape.
Try Greener Cleaning Practices
Use natural cleaning products to clean. These two ingredients are great for removing stains, but they also help freshen the air in your apartment. Mix a cup of vinegar with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle, then apply it to surfaces that need scrubbing, like bathroom tile and kitchen counters, then let it sit for 15 minutes before wiping it with a wet towel. Vinegar will leave them sparkling clean!
Lemon juice also works wonders, especially when you’re trying to get rid of moldy smells from your home; just rub some on any surface that’s been affected by water damage, mildew, or dampness. Essential oils are a great alternative: lavender oil is known for its antibacterial properties; eucalyptus oil repels pests such as ants and roaches while remaining safe around pets.
Get an Energy Audit
Using energy efficiently can make your apartment more sustainable. That’s why you need an energy audit at least once every year to identify areas where the house is not as efficient as it should be. The audit will also help you understand how much energy your home uses in daily use, such as heating or cooling, lighting, and appliances like dishwashers. If there are any issues with these things, a technician can fix them early enough before they become worse.
Install Timers for Outdoor Lights
You can use a timer to turn off your outdoor lights at a specific time of day. This will save money by reducing electricity bills and cutting down on unnecessary waste of energy. The most important thing is that you set up this system properly, so it works efficiently.
Invest in Solar Power
Solar power is another easy way to reduce your carbon footprint. Although there’s an upfront cost in buying and installing solar panels, solar systems last a long time and pay for themselves over time in reduced utility bills. We should also mention that solar panels use sunlight to power your home; sunlight is freely available and renewable.
Solar is becoming more popular as costs come down and tax incentives continue to make it an attractive option for homeowners. In fact, several states now offer generous rebates on solar installations—and even if you don’t qualify for one of these programs, it will still help your wallet by reducing energy costs year-round.
Adopt Sustainable Heating
One of the most important things you can do to turn your apartment into a sustainable home is to adopt sustainable heating. You will need to choose a heating source that is renewable and efficient. Wood stoves and pellet stoves are both good options for heating your apartment because they release very little carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.
Heat pumps and geothermal systems also work well; they replace cold indoor air with warm air. Finally, if none of these options works out well for you, consider investing in radiant flooring. This heating system uses solar power to send current to heat tubes embedded under floor tiles, creating convection currents that heat your apartment.
Living sustainably is good for your wallet, your health, and your community. It’s also a great way to help the environment by reducing waste and carbon emissions. And it doesn’t take up much of your time. By turning off lights when not in use, recycling old items, switching to energy-efficient appliances, and making other environmentally friendly changes in your lifestyle, you can make the world better for you and future generations.