There are many downsides to renting. Landlords can be a real pain. I had this landlord who would complain because I was always almost late with my rent. That means, technically, I was always on time. There's just no accounting for some people.
Going green is also harder when you rent. If you are legally unable to make changes to your thermal envelope, your roof or your windows, then you have to sit idly by as heat and energy are wasted in the very house that you live in. You can make some of these changes without permission, but I'm convinced that landlords sit around thinking up ways to get their hands on your security deposit.
You can be a green renter without invalidating your lease. It pays to be proactive before you rent. There is a Portland-based website called Greenrenter.com. The idea behind this website is to find eco-responsible commercial and residential buildings and hook them up with eco-friendly renters. You can also check to see if the building is up to LEED standards or if it incorporates any green ideas into its design.
It also doesn't hurt to ask your landlord if you can work together to green up the apartment building. They might let you, and better yet, they might foot the bill for it. Even landlords are going green, especially since it saves them money in the long run.
Here are three quick tips on how to green a rental without renovations::
1. Seal the areas around your light fixtures and windows with caulk.
2. Use energy-efficient light bulbs, non-toxic paints, low-VOC cleaning supplies and keep your fridge free of dust.
3. Blackout curtains in the winter can save 25% on heating bills.
Don't be afraid to go green, renters. Although you live in someone else's property, we still all share the planet.