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Green Apartments | How to Make Your Apartment Green

June 13, 2012

And no, we're not talking about the color. Your apartment may be green, but that doesn't mean it's green.  Regardless of whether you pay for your utilities as part of a monthly fee, or if you cover your electricity and water bill yourself, it's always better for you AND the environment to be as environmentally efficient as possible. Think about it this way; for every extra kilowatt per hour you burn, a penguin in Antarctica dies.

Ignoring this blog's recent penchant to upload cute animals in lieu of original content, it's pretty clear: going green is good for not only the environment, but it can also lower your apartment energy bill and sense of guilt. It's a win-win for green apartments around NYC. Here's 4 tips on how to overcome your reluctance and save some penguins by making your apartment more energy efficient.

Problem: You Love Your Hot Showers.

This is a failure we can all attest to. By some force of nature or higher power, human beings have been programmed to enjoy long, hot showers, often accompanied by singing, deep thoughts, or prolonged arguments with yourself over an ex-girlfriend that left six months ago. This one you can't do anything about, right? Wrong.

Solution: Get a Green, Low-Flow Showerhead.

Your apartment shower will be just as comfortable with a low-flow showerhead that's optimized to cover a greater area, and you'll use significantly less water, saving a four-person family $285 a year. For a $15 showerhead, that's a pretty good investment towards green apartments. Also, newer showerheads have those cool little effects like shooting out small bursts of water like a massage and spraying rainbow light on you.

Problem: Incandescent Lights Look Better

Not all of us like the harsh, bright glow of fluorescents. In fact, most home designers agree that incandescent lights add a more intimate, friendly feel to your apartment. However, incandescents are terrible for the atmosphere. Changing one incandescent for a CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) will save 400 pounds of greenhouse gases over the life of both. Where are you going to put that 400 pounds?

Solution: Lamp Covers and Dimmer CFLs

Lighting companies have recently found a lot of ways for CFLs to mimic the look of incandescents much more accurately. Adding colored lamp covers has proved to be a successful option, and new CFLs have been designed that produce a dimmer, more orange glow than is standard, coming closer to the soft pulse of incandescent lights. With these new advances, very few people should have any real qualms about switching to CFLs.

Problem: You Have an Unhealthy Obsession with the A/C

We have air conditioners for a reason: because sometimes in New York it gets incredibly obnoxiously hot, and most of us don't have the option of just going to sit in our cars. (You could go sit in the subways, but that's generally equated to being homeless.) However, our air conditioners are one of the biggest contributors to a green-unfriendly apartment. What can you do?

Solution: CFLs (again!) and Conserving Usage Makes Green Apartments Greener

One of the biggest heaters in the average apartment is, unsurprisingly, incandescent lights, which can generate massive amounts of energy for the amount of light they produce. Toss them and your apartment will already be about 20% cooler; turn off your A/C when you leave the house, and save another 30%.  Using a new thermostat to automatically perform this step will save you the hassle of doing it manually; you won't even know feel a difference until you glance at your energy bills. Half of your A/C usage can be cut down following these two simple steps.

Problem: Your Refrigerator is Eating Up Electricity

Especially for green apartments with side-by-side refrigerators, fridges can burn a gigantic proportion of your energy bill. Because they're on 24/7 and expel hot air into the room that puts a toll on your A/C, they can actually be the single largest contributor in some instances. How should you go about fixing them?

Solution: Move it Away from the Oven, Clean the Coils

These two tips will drastically reduce the power your refrigerator demands. Few people realize that the oven and dishwasher, two major heat-producing sources, actually negate a large amount of the energy that the refrigerator spends cooling its occupants. Moving it away can save you 20% on your fridge's energy usage. Cleaning the coils in the back can also improve the efficiency of your refrigerator, especially if it's an old model or hasn't been cleaned in a while. Finally, if none of these seem to work, just unplug the refrigerator and frantically blow on the exposed food for the next seven months.