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1. Put in a programmable thermostat. If you have access to your thermostat, replacing the regular controls with a programmable version (like this one) can save you a bundle in energy costs. See the Energy Star website for more info and tips on how to program your thermostat. Ask your landlord first and see if you can get reimbursed for the upgrade.
3. Ask your landlord to lower the water heating temperature. Changing the water heater to the "warm" setting with a maximum temp of 120 degrees will save energy and prevent accidental burns. This is especially important if you ever have little ones around the house!
5. Seal over VOC-containing paint. If you notice a strong chemical smell from the paint on your walls when you move in, consider getting permission to repaint them yourself. If you get the go-ahead, use a nonbreathable primer like B-I-N shellac-base primer first to cover the old paint; it will seal in the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and prevent further off-gassing. Then, follow that with a coat or two of low-VOC paint.
Note that while B-I-N primer itself is not ecofriendly, it finishes off-gassing in a matter of hours, whereas traditional paint can continue emitting toxic fumes for years.
6. Install dimmers or sensors on light switches. Not only are dimmer switches helpful for creating a lovely ambience, but they can also help save energy by allowing you to keep lights at the lowest level required. As an extra step, you could ask to install vacancy sensors, which automatically shut off lights when no one is in the room.
7. Switch to CFL or LED bulbs. If you haven't done it yet, switch over all of your bulbs from incandescents to CFL or LED bulbs, which last far longer.
10. Make a DIY water displacer for your toilet. Reduce the amount of water your toilet uses per flush by placing a liter bottle filled with water inside the tank.
11. Install a dual-flush converter for your toilet. For even more water-saving potential, you can install a dual-flush retrofit in your existing toilet. Run this fix by your landlord first — he or she may even be willing to reimburse you.
12. Switch to a low-flow showerhead. It may seem a little intimidating, but replacing a showerhead is a fairly simple procedure, and you can even remove it and take it with you when you move.
14. Use your window coverings to regulate temperature. During the summer months, close up windows and shades to keep the apartment cooler during the heat of the day. Fling open the windows during the evenings to refresh the air and let in a cool breeze.
15. Hang blackout curtains. This add-on for curtains or shades doesn't just keep it dark in the bedroom in the morning, it can also help insulate your apartment.
16. Check if your utility company offers a "green power" option. Some cities are now offering renewable energy. If it is available in your area, it would mean that part or all of your electricity could be purchased from wind farms and other renewable sources.