Go Green: Renters have options for reducing waste

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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 40 years, CET has helped people and businesses in Massachusetts save energy and reduce waste.

Q: I live in an apartment, so I feel like my options for saving energy and reducing waste are limited. Do you have any advice?

A: Absolutely — whether renter or owner, you can save energy and reduce waste in so many ways. Here are our favorites for renters:

- Slay energy 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 .26 watts of energy when not in use, and 2.24 watts even when a fully-charged device is connected to it. With the average American household owning 25 consumer electronics, you can see how they can add up. Invest in power strips that will allow you to discontinue energy flow to multiple suckers with a quick switch.

- Light it up. Incandescent bulbs use 90 percent of their energy on heat — not light. Replace them with CFL or LED bulbs, and you'll save money on your energy bill each month by reducing your energy use. CFL bulbs use a quarter of the energy of incandescents and last up to 10 times longer- LEDs last up to 30 times longer. It's so easy to do and you won't have to think about it again for years.

- 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 Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10 percent on your heating and cooling costs per year by turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting.

- Air it out. 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.

- Do the worm. Did you know that you can compost in your home without unpleasant odors? Worms will consume organic waste like egg shells and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and other organic waste, as well as newspaper and cardboard. Not composting dairy and meat helps keep your compost odor-free. It's a great way to cut down waste, and you can use the finished compost to help grow plants as decorations.

Are you a Go Green renter? Visit us on social media and tell us about how you have made your apartment a more efficient and less-wasteful space. Look out for this column every two weeks, and send Go Green questions to GoGreen@cetonline.org.

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