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nashvillwill

How to save energy in an apartment.

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Well, I am a part-time conservationist, and thrifty person. However, my big dreams of solar panels and thermal heating are defeated by the fact that I live in an apartment. Therefore, i cannot make ANY changes to the fabric of my dwelling. I try to buy only energy efficient small appliances, but obviously (things like a refrigerator, which is furnished) I can't do much in that area.

The things I do:

1. I have replaced all of the standard incadesent light bulbs with halogens.

2. Luckily, I have a fireplace which I use daily to lower heating cost/energy consumption.

3. I have weather stripped my doors.

4. Change my air-filter regularly.

5. ..other simple things like opening windows for light/heat, leaving lights off as mush as possible, and other common sense things.

Anyone have any other idea's about how I can save the world (and maybe a few bucks) while still giving all of my dough to The Man? :)

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Buy a flat panel TV instead of having a CRT TV. Not sure how much you'll save, but you'll have a better TV :)

Wash dishes instead of running the dish washer frequently

If you're choosing an apartment, choose an upstairs/top floor apartment. Easier to keep warm in the winter from my own personal experience. I lived in a townhome for a while. There was a 10 degree difference between up and down stairs. I have a friend that lives in the same complex who lives on the lower level, and his apartment is usually a few degrees colder on average. I live on the top floor.

If you have a laptop and desktop computer, use the lappy more often.

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For your frig, you have two options.

1) Always keep it full.

2.) If don't keep that much in the frig, store any solid objects in it to fill up unused spaces. Styrafoam blocks would work.

The point is a full refrigerator runs more efficiently than an emty one.

For your computer....

1) If you have a CRT monitor, replace it with a flat panel as a flat panel consumes far less power than a CRT of the same screen size.

2) Set your computer to go to sleep when it is idle and munually put for computer to sleep when you are done using it.

3) Clean your computer from time to time. You would be suprised at how much dust can block cooling fans forcing them to work harder.

For yor TV....

1) Just like your computer monitor, replace any CRT TV in your house with plasmas and/ or LCD's as the flat panel models are more efficient than CRT of the same screen size.

For drafty Windows....

1) If your apartment has drafty windows, tape clear plastic over your windows every winter to cut back drafts.

If you have an electric oven and not cooking a large meal.....

1) Buy a small toaster oven and use it instead of the large oven as the toaster over takes up less power.

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Take out the plugs from the walls of appliances or electronics your not using or when you leave for the day. So called "phantom" or "vampire" watts suck up plenty of power even if the machine is turned off. That goes for everything from your computer, television, microwave, toaster, etc. Probably, the only appliance you wouldn't want to unplug would be the refrigerator, but otherwise try unplugging for a month or two and then compare past bills.

Maybe start in January, since December is not really a good month to start on.

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1. I have replaced all of the standard incadesent light bulbs with halogens.

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- Depending on what version of OS and computer you have, you should actually put your computer into hibernate mode, which actually shuts it down, but saving the hard disk where you were so it starts up faster.

- Don't use screensavers, but instead just have your monitor shut off at the same period of time. I just read that screensavers can use up to 100W per hour.

- Buy furniture within a certain radius of your home (some people try to keep their purchases sourced/manufactured within 100 miles of the home) in order to save on transportation energy/pollution. In Nashville, you should have easy access to NC built furniture, for example.

- I have read that candles are a good way to save on heating costs, but I'm sure there are some trade offs.

- Also, environmentally and economically, making do with what you already own is always a savings. It doesn't help the environment that much if you (to choose an extreme example for illustration) replace a 5 year old fridge simply because new ones are much more efficient. The manufacture of the new one is still a major part of its life cycle cost (economically and environmentally).

- I'm not sure how you commute, but there are also lots of ways to be thrifty and green on that front.

- You could also tally up your carbon footprint and put money into carbon credits.

- If your power company does it, you can pay a little extra for green power. Its often more efficient to let the larger producers do the green power rather than try to do it on your own home (I think I did the analysis once and it would tak 25 years for a pay back, which means I could spend that money on other things and maybe do more good).

- Don't smoke.

- Go organic for food (and if you're extreme, clothing too). But skip the organic chicken, as it has significantly higher risk for salmonella. (Although dying is the most environmentally friendly thing people can do... <-- in poor taste, sorry)

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This is all very good advice. Thanks to everyone!

I do try practice many of the things y'all (that's Nashville for "you guys") recommend. Toaster over, instead of full size, hibernate my computer. I even have a 35 mile commute on which I ride the bus for about 30 of it. I ride my bike frequently despite that my particular neighborhood is about as pedestrian hostile as it gets.

However, organic candles are news to me. I'll look into that. Since I live in Tennessee with the TVA my energy comes from mostly hydroelectric and Nuclear power (I personally consider it more green than fossil fuels, although I know that's controversial). A full fridge vs. an empty one is also very creative, I would have never thought of that.

Dubone, what do you mean by "tally up my carbon footprint and put money into carbon credits"? Sorry, if that's something I should know but I might be misunderstanding you. Please explain.

As far as consumer goods, I'm afraid I can't go that far. As I mentioned I am a part-time conservationist. I also hve to be very frugal. I typically buy products according to how I view the companys policy's(environmental friendliness is a part of that formula) I do however recycle! :D Oh, I also invested in LED christmas lights this year! That makes me feel good.

Cheers! And thanks alot for your help.

P.S.-any favorite "green life" websites you guys can recommend would be cool to check out. I'm new at this life-style and kinda taking it one step at a time. Maybe I'll buy the green furniture in the future, like.....when I don't live in an apartment. :P

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Carbon offsets are explained here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_offset

I'm not sure how practical it is, but it is getting more and more references in the media.

In most cases that I have heard of, farmers use the proceeds from selling a carbon offset to reforest land.

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A suggestion that may not be to everyone's taste, but...

If you have not deposited anything solid in the toilet, don't flush. Just shut the lid. This may seem weird but when you think about it, using 5 gallons of water to get rid of about an ounce of pee is far more bizarre.

Some more ideas...

Never use a clean piece of paper to write down or print anything unless it is for "official" use (work, school). Keep a stack of used paper in your printer to print on the back side for all recreational printing. If you work in an office, take home the paper they waste in one day; it will last you a year. Keep a file/drawer of scraps of paper for any time you need to write something down.

Use canvas bags at the grocery store, buy items from bulk bins, and re-use the plastic bags that you put the bulk items and produce in.

Take shorter showers.

If it's winter and your apartment is too warm for comfort in a sweater, turn the heat down.

Go to sleep when it gets dark and wake up when the sun comes up.

Unless the water in your area is awful, buy a water filtering device instead of wasting money on bottled water. For water on the go, buy a re-usable water bottle like Nalgene.

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This one grocery store near me now actually makes you buy plastic bags to use for your groceries. Now I see people all the time walking in with them, obviously saved from the last time, so they don't have to buy any more. Pretty good idea.

I found my apartment in the summertime stayed the coolest if I closed all my windows during the day and pulled all my drapes closed. Then at night I'd open them all and let in cooler air. I only had to use my AC a few times during some 90 degree heat.

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In my apartment, I use my toaster oven quite frequently. In fact, since I moved last August, I have yet to use my large oven.

I replaced my lights with florescents. They are brighter and use far less electricity -- plus, I won't get a tan or sweat when I'm next to them :)

I also started recycling. I purchased two small plastic tubs -- one is for paper products (boxboard, paper, etc.), the other is for plastics.

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Some more ideas...

Never use a clean piece of paper to write down or print anything unless it is for "official" use (work, school). Keep a stack of used paper in your printer to print on the back side for all recreational printing. If you work in an office, take home the paper they waste in one day; it will last you a year. Keep a file/drawer of scraps of paper for any time you need to write something down.

Go to sleep when it gets dark and wake up when the sun comes up.

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Just living in an apartment pushes one a few steps environmentally ahead of housedwellers. Regarding climate control, detached houses are surrounded on all sides by the winter cold and summer heat, while apartments have as few as one side exposed. And by sharing walls, floors and ceilings with one another, apartments save building materials. They are to varying extents stacked and packed, when single family homes are sprawled. Apartments are land-conserving rather than land-consuming. And if your apartment is in a walkable neighborhood with solid public transit and you live car-free or car-light, you are an environmental all-star.

And regarding home heating, turn the thermostat way down when you are confined to a single room for an extended period of time. I was surprised to learn how much mere body heat raises a room's temperature. Or even better, share a bed!

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I put plastic on a few of my windows, that was a real pain in the ass, but it isn't so breezy anymore...

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question. i often use my fireplace instead of my HVAC. although to effeciently warm my whole (vaulted ceiling) apt., i have to use my ceiling fan for circulation. i have heard that ceiling fans use a significant amount of energy, even compared to the HVAC. am i wasting my time? or is this a reasoonable practice?

p.s.- i know i am dealing with fractions, but i am still curious. i also know that i could deal with the cold spots, but....what can i say, im american, and i like my comforts.

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Does anyone watch the show on HGTV? Living with Ed, and is that really realistic?

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Just living in an apartment pushes one a few steps environmentally ahead of housedwellers. Regarding climate control, detached houses are surrounded on all sides by the winter cold and summer heat, while apartments have as few as one side exposed. And by sharing walls, floors and ceilings with one another, apartments save building materials. They are to varying extents stacked and packed, when single family homes are sprawled. Apartments are land-conserving rather than land-consuming. And if your apartment is in a walkable neighborhood with solid public transit and you live car-free or car-light, you are an environmental all-star.

And regarding home heating, turn the thermostat way down when you are confined to a single room for an extended period of time. I was surprised to learn how much mere body heat raises a room's temperature. Or even better, share a bed!

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nashwill - If you have vaulted ceilings, a ceiling fan is a great way to reduce your heating costs because if it set to blow up in the winter then it will blow that heat back down to the living area and you don't have to run your heat as much. While the fan does require some energy, the heater uses far far more.

Another easy tip for an apartment dweller. Make sure your dishwasher is set to air-dry and not heated drying of the dishes. Manufacturers ought to be required to default this option to Off. Some do and some don't.

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nashwill - If you have vaulted ceilings, a ceiling fan is a great way to reduce your heating costs because if it set to blow up in the winter then it will blow that heat back down to the living area and you don't have to run your heat as much. While the fan does require some energy, the heater uses far far more.

Another easy tip for an apartment dweller. Make sure your dishwasher is set to air-dry and not heated drying of the dishes. Manufacturers ought to be required to default this option to Off. Some do and some don't.

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The dishwasher is more efficient but only if you wash a full load. Running the water constantly during hand dish washing wastes a huge amount of water and if it is hot water a huge amount of energy as well. If you are going to hand wash, fill the sink once with rinse water with a stopper.

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Do dishwashers use less hot water than washing dishes in the sink, leaving the water running the whole time? I've always wondered this, I have a dishwasher but never really use it.

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My old apartment had the furnace and the boiler right under my bedroom, so I'd leave the heat at 60 and I was always nice and warm in bed atleast. My kitchen was always a bit cold though, unless I was using the oven.

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I don't know if it was posted above but everyone should shutdown their PC when going to lunch or walking away from it for a while. Running PCs waste an enormous amount of energy in this country. Even better, if it is on a power strip, use the off switch to cut off the power to it and all the peripherals.

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I don't know if it was posted above but everyone should shutdown their PC when going to lunch or walking away from it for a while. Running PCs waste an enormous amount of energy in this country. Even better, if it is on a power strip, use the off switch to cut off the power to it and all the peripherals.

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I only recently heard about portable solar panels for powering portable devices (cell phones, iPods, PDAs, etc.). ( Treehugger.comLink 1 Link 2 ) If you have a widow that gets a good deal of sunlight, you could perhaps leave whatever devices you wanted to charge by the window instead of plugging into the wall. And leaving things plugged in that don't need to be plugged in use "phantom wattage" - which isn't much, but adds up if you've got a lot of stuff plugged in but not in use.

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