Renting can be a bit of a nightmare for many reasons, but especially if you’re pursuing a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Let’s just say your carbon footprint might not be on the top of your landlord’s list of priorities.
But fear not – there are still a lot of things you can do to make your home eco-friendly in a rented property. To give you a head start, we’ve listed 19 different ways tenants can do their bit to help the planet, whilst staying on their landlord's good side.
What’s on this page?
How to conserve heat in a rented property
1. Don’t block your radiators
You’d be surprised how much of a difference you can make by simply moving a chunky sofa out of the way of your radiator.
By opening up the space between your radiator and the rest of the room, heat will be able to move more freely around the room, which will keep your home warmer and mean you don’t have to reach for the thermostat so much.
Want to go a step further? Pop a heat-resistant reflecting panel in between the radiator and the wall to channel the heat back into a room.
2. Find and block draughts around the house
Draught-proofing your property can make it much more energy efficient – reducing your carbon footprint and your bills. In fact, removing draughts around windows and doors could save you around £25 per year.
Draughts are most commonly found at windows, doors, open chimneys, old floorboards, and worn out extractor fans – so keep an eye on these spaces.
3. Add insulation
Insulating your home doesn’t always mean piping foam into your walls or installing double glazed windows. There are lots of simple and affordable ways to insulate your home without adjusting the infrastructure, including:
- Adding blackout curtains – These act like a thick barrier between you and the cold coming through any inefficient windows
- Getting some rugs or mats – If you have wooden or laminate floors, this will act as an extra layer of insulation
- Popping a draught excluder at the foot of your door – Perhaps the most simple way to stop draughts from cooling down your property
- Adding a ‘jacket’ to your hot water cylinder – Similar to how our coats keep us warm, this jacket will keep that much-needed heat locked in
How to save water in a rented property
4. Install low-flow showerheads
Taking shorter showers is the most obvious way to save water at home. But for anyone unable to do this – for example, people with mobility issues – low-flow showerheads are a great alternative.
There are two types of low-flow heads available: aerating and non-aerating. Aerating heads mix oxygen with the water to create a soft-flow shower. Non-aerating heads, on the other hand, restrict the water flow and squeeze it through very small holes – producing quite a powerful spray.
Installing these heads is incredibly quick and affordable, and can save about five gallons of water each month.
5. Buy a dishwasher
Washing dishes by hand wastes an enormous amount of water. That's why the easiest way to save water in the kitchen is by switching to a dishwasher.
It’s also a good idea to avoid pre-rinsing dishes. Nowadays, detergents are super effective, so you can trust them to do the dirty work for you.
6. Get a water butt for the garden
Harvesting rainwater is an excellent way to save on water bills – and a water butt is a brilliant tool to help you do this. It will help all year round, but particularly during the summer months.
All you need to do is buy the container and attach it to a vertical drainpipe. Alternatively, you can get crafty and use a leftover bin or barrel to collect the rainwater. It’s free water that you can use to give your garden all the tender love and care it needs – what’s not to love?
How to save energy in a rented property
7. Replace the light bulbs
This is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to make your home more eco-friendly.
LED lights are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and although they cost more upfront, they will reward you with cheaper electricity.
These efficient bulbs have an average life of 20,000 hours, compared to an incandescent bulb’s 1,000 hours. In terms of savings, if you make this swap for just one bulb, you could save £153.40 each year.
8. Switch energy suppliers
Bulb, one of the UK’s popular green energy suppliers, estimates that its average member can lower their carbon impact by 3.4 tonnes of CO2 a year by switching to its tariff.
If this sounds right up your alley, consider asking your landlord if you can switch to a green energy supplier – you may even save a bit of money too! Since fossil fuels are finite – and rapidly running out – prices of gas, oil, and coal are rising, while renewable energy costs are falling.
9. Clean your fridge
Typically, tenants get stuck with white appliances that are already at the property, so getting an energy-efficient fridge is not usually an option.
You can, however, improve the efficiency of your fridge by cleaning the coils at the back of it. When the coils get dirty, your fridge will use way more electricity than it should need to keep cool.
10. Try using energy-saving power strips
Renters can avoid using unnecessary energy for appliances by using power strips with built-in energy-saving features. Any devices on standby that are plugged into one of these strips can be monitored and turned off automatically.
You can even control some smart plugs from your phone. That’s right – no more worrying about whether you left the hair straightener on!
11. Get a smart meter
These handy devices analyse your electricity and gas usage, and update your energy company with new readings. They work almost instantaneously for electricity, and every 30 minutes for gas.
12. Add solar devices to your home
We know, solar panels are most probably out of the question if you’re renting – but that’s not to say you can’t harness the sun’s energy in other ways.
Some other cool solar gadgets include:
- Outdoor solar lights – Perfect for adding character to your garden without costing the planet
- Solar chargers – These usually work best outdoors, but some new solar devices can now charge through a window pane
- Solar wireless keyboard – Some big brands, such as Logitech, have released solar-powered keyboards. Simply pop one outside to charge on your lunch break!
- Solar-powered CCTV cameras – Rather than using lots of energy to power your security cameras, stay safe and help the planet by charging them with solar power
How to have eco-friendly interior
13. Shop secondhand
A recent report suggests the average piece of furniture generates around 47 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide equivalents on the production line – roughly the same amount as burning around 5.3 gallons of petrol.
Want to steer clear of these emissions? Try looking into secondhand furniture – you’d be surprised how many gems you can find. Popular options for finding interior pieces are Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, local charity shops, or car boot sales.
14. Look into eco-friendly interior brands
If you’ve got a little extra cash to splash, do some research on sustainable homeware brands. Unfortunately, sustainable items tend to be more expensive than high street versions, but that’s because the materials are high quality and everyone along the production line has been paid fairly.
Some eco-friendly homeware brands worth checking out include:
15. Make things from scratch or upcycle
If you’re into your arts and crafts, why not try making your own furniture? Or better still, give worn-out furniture a new zest for life by upcycling it.
This can be as simple as sanding down a scratched coffee table and adding a coat of varnish, bringing an old bookshelf to life with a lick of paint, or adding some character to a chest of drawers by including some funky wallpaper.
Other ways to be more eco-friendly at home
16. Try chemical-free cleaning
When it comes to cleaning, consider swapping chemical-heavy products for ones with natural ingredients, or even making your own. A lot of natural-based cleaning solutions stick to a mixture of bicarbonate of soda, white vinegar, and something to spruce up the smell.
By doing this, you can avoid flushing any harmful chemicals into the water system, which usually end up in the sea poisoning wildlife.
17. Give composting a go
Currently, food waste accounts for about 6% of the world’s total global greenhouse gas emissions.
One main way you can avoid (or cut down on) these emissions is to compost your food waste. All you have to do is get yourself a compost bin for your garden and add any leftover scraps, such as fruit and vegetables, eggshells, and tea bags.
Over time, this mix will naturally degrade and you’ll be left with some rich, fertile compost to put on your flowerbeds.
Feeling overwhelmed by the process of composting? Check out our comprehensive guide to composting at home to get a better idea of how it all works.
18. Shop at more zero-waste stores
Zero-waste stores are popping up around the UK like there’s no tomorrow – if you look carefully, you’re sure to find one in your local area.
At these stores, you can find loose food items, such as pasta, rice, cereal, baking items, and snacks – all free of plastic. Simply bring along a few empty jars or Tupperware, and fill to your heart’s content.
If you’re lucky, you might even have the option to refill other plastic-free bathroom or kitchen items, such as soap, shampoo and conditioner, dishwasher tablets, and more.
It’s something we’ve all been told time and time again, so here’s one more reminder – recycle, recycle, recycle!
Anything that can’t be reused can be sent to the recycling centre, rather than the landfill. Bear in mind that each county in the UK has its own set of recycling rules, so make sure you’re up to date on your area’s requirements before separating your rubbish.
Although renting a property means you’re unable to install solar panels, add extra insulation to your walls, and replace old windows, there’s still so much you can do at home to help the environment.
Hopefully, you can get cracking after reading this, and start transforming your home into an eco-friendly haven.
If you’d like to learn even more ways to be environmentally friendly, head on over to our Eco Home Hub, where you can find plenty of tips and tricks on how to become greener at home.