Resources for Renters
Just because you don’t own your home doesn’t mean you can’t control its energy impact! Your living habits play a huge role in how energy is used; after all, residential energy use includes not only heating and cooling your home but also providing lighting, cooking, and powering all your electrical devices.
Whether you are in a house, apartment, townhouse, or other shared space, there are numerous actions you can take to be more energy efficient. By reducing your energy use, you may save money every month on your utility bills. But even if your utility bills are paid by your landlord or management company, you might be able to make your home a healthier, more comfortable place to live.
Renewable Energy for Renters
Renewable energy is available to all Santa Monicans. Starting in February 2019 for residential customers and May 2019 for non-residential customers, Clean Power Alliance became the new electricity provider for Santa Monica. Santa Monica has chosen 100% Green Power as the default product for our community, taking one big step to reaching carbon neutrality. Clean Power Alliance purchases clean power and Southern California Edison delivers it. Unless you opted out, you are already using 100% renewable energy from the grid – so you’re doing your bit to reduce emissions from residential energy use and tackle climate change.
Discounts are available for CARE, FERA, and Medical Baseline customers. Enrollments or renewals must still be done through Southern California Edison’s customer service center or website. To apply for your discount, visit sce.com/care
Efficiency Tips for Renters
The following tips are specifically designed to help tenants save energy with little out-of-pocket costs.
Adjust Window Treatments
Take advantage of daylight during cooler months by leaving window blinds open to reduce both lighting and heating demand. At night, keep drapes and curtains closed to reduce heat loss.
Use the smallest stove top burner necessary to do the job. Match your pan size to the burner size. For example, a 6″ pan on an 8″ burner can waste over 40% of the heat produced by the burner.
While cooking, avoid “peeking” by opening the oven door. Each “peek” can lower the oven temperature. Optimize energy use by cooking several dishes simultaneously in the oven or consider using the microwave.
Reduce your annual energy bill by unplugging and properly disposing of your unneeded refrigerators. For those in use, keep refrigerator coils clean. Old and poorly-sealed door gaskets can also increase electric use. If you think the door may not be sealing properly, leave a lit flashlight inside; if you see light around the door, it’s time to replace the gasket.
Clothes Washers & Dryers
Use the low-temperature settings on the washing machine and load it to capacity. Washing one load uses less energy than washing two smaller loads. When drying, dry full loads whenever possible, but be careful not to overfill the dryer. Or, hang your clothes to air dry. Cleaning the dryer filter after each use can also reduce energy use.
Operate the dishwasher at full capacity whenever possible. If the manufacturer’s instructions permit, opening the door of the dishwasher at the end of the last rinse cycle can reduce energy consumption by skipping the drying cycle.
Select products with the ENERGY STAR® Label
When buying new electronics or appliances, you could save 5-25% in appliance operating costs by purchasing appliances with the Energy Star label.
Turn off lights when rooms are not occupied. For fixtures with multiple light bulbs consider reducing the wattage on each of the lightbulbs used. LEDs are even more cost effective over time than CFLs, using 1/2 the energy and lasting up to ten times longer than CFLs! Save money by switching out bulbs if your landlord has supplied incandescent bulbs.
Reduce Phantum load
Many appliances continue to draw power when they are switched off. These “phantom” loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as DVDs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. Plug devices into a power strip and switch it off when the devices are not in use.
Try a Smart Power Strip
Many appliances continue to draw power when they are switched off. These “phantom” loads occur in most appliances that use electricity. Smart strips can eliminate the phantom load draw of household electronics.
Borrow an Electricity Meter
Kill-A-Watt electricity monitors are available to borrow from the Santa Monica Main Library as a part of the Sustainability DIY Toolkit. Use and electricity monitor to determine which appliances in your home are contributing to phantom load.
Consider Using PhotoCells for Outdoor Lighting
Photocells are sensors that detect light. Outdoor lights turn on only when it is dark outside, saving money during the day.
Repair all leaky faucets
One drop per second with a dripping faucet can waste up to 1,661 gallons of water over the course of a year.
low-cost upgrade options
- Install programmable thermostats.
- Install occupancy sensors in conference rooms or other areas not continuously occupied.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient LED and compact fluorescent bulbs.
- Install awnings, window shades, or window films to keep out the summer sun and lower air-conditioning costs.
- Purchase ENERGY STAR certified office equipment that you can take with you if you move to another location.
- Caulk and weather-strip windows and doors.
- Fix leaky faucets and toilets to conserve water.
- Southern California Edison has an online marketplace to get information about smart home products, portable power stations, light bulbs, heaters, A/C, and home appliances. Compare efficiency of products, read reviews, find rebates and track price drops.
Before signing a lease, negotiate for greener features. Greater efficiency features add to the apartment’s appeal and both improve the value of the property, as well as attract responsible tenants like you. Too many tenants sign leases without an accurate understanding of the utility costs for which they will be responsible. You may not be able to negotiate a lower rent, but you CAN reduce your utility costs AND reduce your environmental footprint to boot!
Before you rent:
Before signing a lease, make sure you are aware of the energy usage of your potential home.
- Ask for former tenant utility bills
- Insulation and weatherization – request that the landlord address any drafts, holes, or gaps in doors and windows before signing your lease. This is especially important in older homes.
- Check for leaky pipes and water fixtures – turn faucets and showers on yourself or talk directly with current tenants. If there are issues, request the landlord address these before signing your lease.
- Age and efficiency of appliances – ask landlord details about the fridge, dishwasher, washer/dryer, stove, hot water heater, and air-conditioners. Older models use more energy. Always ask for ENERGY STAR rated models.
Already signed a lease? No sweat!
You still have a lot of bargaining power as a current tenant. Especially if you have rented for several years and are known as being a responsible tenant, your landlord wants to keep you. When signing your lease renewal, ask your landlord to consider adding energy efficiency improvements. It’s never too late!
Making renewable energy more available and affordable requires that we all speak up. You can use your voice to reach elected officials, government agencies, and businesses to set policy that is renewable energy friendly. Incentives, policies and technologies that make it cost effective for landlords to install solar power on their properties are needed. Similarly, you can use your clout as a customer to ask businesses where you shop what they are doing to use renewable energy. Climate Action Santa Monica and Solar Rights Alliance can help you become a solar champion and advance renewable energy generation, storage, and access.
For more information on the policies and programs from the City of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability & the Environment, please visit www.sustainablesm.org