In recent years the movement towards leading a sustainable and environmentally-friendly existence has been gathering pace.
Alongside popular TV shows such as Blue Planet highlighting the damage our actions can have on the planet’s oceans, many retailers and supermarkets are aiming to reduce their plastic consumption and there has of course been the successful 5p carrier bag charge, introduced in England in October 2015.
As a population, we're more invested in eco matters than ever before. As well as through the foods we choose to eat and the brands we choose to buy from, sustainability and green values are shining through in our home life.
In fact, a number of surveys have shown just how important having an environmentally-friendly home is becoming for tenants. For example, a survey of 500 tenants, carried out by YouGov on behalf of PC World, found that 80% of respondents agreed that landlords should consider the environmental impact of their property and undertake measures to ensure that it's environmentally-friendly.
So, with all of this in mind, what can you do to make your rental property greener and more sustainable?
Composting and waste management
Composting your waste is a great way to be more eco-friendly. All you need to do is buy a compost bin for your garden and then use it to store any fruit and vegetable scraps you produce, plus other compostable items (egg shells, hair and tea bags).
By creating something that goes back into the ground, you are reducing the amount of waste your household produces. Compost will also make it easier for you to grow your own fruit and vegetables, which can save you money and also wins you extra brownie points in the sustainability rankings.
When it comes to other household waste that can't be composted, make sure you recycle as much as you can and use food waste services if they are available to you. All of this contributes towards making your home more environmentally-friendly and reducing the amount of waste you send to landfill sites.
Plastic and packaging
Overuse of plastic and excess packaging are two of the biggest environmental issues facing the planet. So, to reduce your consumption and lead a more sustainable home life you could purchase products with less plastic and packaging where possible and make sure anything you do use is recycled.
You could also use more natural or upcycled containers to store dry food and other items, with the added bonus that they also look better. Meanwhile, there is also increasing use of natural cleaning products such as vinegar, fruit acid and bicarbonate of soda which, by their very nature, require less packaging.
Insulation and energy bills
It could be hugely beneficial to check if your rental property is insulated as improving insulation of a home will provide a significant boost to its energy efficiency. A well-insulated property will mean lower energy bills for you and it’s also in your landlord's interest due to recent legislation changes.
As of April this year, landlords are no longer able to let properties with a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F- or G-. What's more, this legislation - called Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) - is being extended to all existing tenancies from April 2020.
There are also rules which mean tenants can request energy efficiency improvements from their landlords, which you can read more about here.
Smart meters and electricity
Installing smart meters can reduce energy consumption, making a home more energy efficient and reducing energy bills - particularly in the winter - at the same time. Smart meters record gas and electricity usage and automatically send readings to providers, which makes for more accurate readings and subsequently energy bills.
They show you how much energy you are using in pounds and pence, and how energy efficient your home is – allowing you to monitor your energy consumption more efficiently.
Before getting a smart meter installed, always ask your landlord's permission. You can find out more about how a smart meter could improve your home’s energy efficiency here.
The importance of water use
Sometimes it can be easy to forget just how important it is to monitor our water consumption. You can take a greener approach to water by notifying your landlord of any leaks or drips so that they can fix them quickly.
You could also ask them to invest in a water-saving showerhead and toilet flush and also reduce your water consumption by taking less baths and more showers.
There we have it, some useful habits which could help you to make your rental property more sustainable, while reducing your energy bills and household costs at the same time.
Remember – before making any significant green changes to your home, you’ll need to ask your landlord’s permission.