Feature

How to live green while renting

'For rent' sign

Credit: iStockphoto

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Live small or live together

Renting a share house is a common right of passage for young Australians. It's a great way to live cheaply and meet new people while maintaining a sense of independence.

Plus, it's great for the environment as sharing energy bills, appliances and common space automatically means you can live with less stuff and consume fewer resources.

Also, consider the amount of living space you actually need. In the age of McMansions it's easy to believe that a huge lounge room or kitchen is one of life's essentials, but you can have a huge influence on your home's energy consumption simply by limiting its size.

Inspection-ology

Rental inspections can be hard work. After waiting in line and giving your name to yet another slick estate agent, you're then faced with the challenge of scoping out the property in a mere 15 minutes.

Together with the usual questions, "Is there enough storage space?", "Is the kitchen big enough?" and "Do I actually like the place?" it's important to ask yourself, "Can I live here sustainably?"

Make a checklist beforehand and tick off as you go.

Take note of the orientation of the property and which rooms will receive northerly sun.

Enquire where and with what materials the property is insulated, and the location and size of the windows.

Gas appliances are extremely common in rental properties - the gas stove and oven combination found in most rentals is a great example - and are an excellent way to limit your carbon footprint.

If you plan to rent an apartment, think about how you'll combat summer heat on upper floors.

To combat winter chills, find out if the property can be zoned off so that you can heat one room at a time.

Draught proofing

Maintaining a comfortable temperature is a big problem in many rentals, as draughts have a way of slipping through seemingly watertight window seals, and large, badly-positioned windows see heating and cooling literally go out the window.

Simple measures like plugging gaps with draught snakes and closing blinds are cheap and easy solutions.

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