There is a lot of information around to help homeowners make their homes more sustainable, but for renters, it can be more difficult to make substantial changes. However, there are many things that renters can do to improve the comfort of their home, reduce energy and water bills and contribute to a healthier environment. Rebates may also be available to offset the cost of some items.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Renters are responsible for replacing light globes. Change over to LED lamps the next time you need to change. They are a little more expensive to buy, but using significantly less electiricy means they are much cheaper to run.
- There are a number of draught-proofing solutions on the market that can be used without being permanently fixed to the building. Door snakes or double sided door snakes are great for excluding draughts under doors. Other DIY draught proofing solutions are very cheap to install and will make the house a lot more comfortable, so with the landlord’s permission, you could consider paying for, and installing these yourself.
- Growing herbs, vegetables and fruit can be done easily in containers or no-dig veggie gardens. There is nothing better than picking your own dinner!
- Use your food scraps to enhance your edible crop or feed the other plants in the garden. Choose either a worm farm or a bokashi bucket that will fit neatly under the sink and take them with you when you move.
- Mobile rainwater collection tanks can be fitted to existing downpipes without damaging the home. Use this water on the garden or to fill a pool. Reconnect the downpipes before you leave and take the tank with you.
- Home Audit Kits are available for loan through the Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service at Eltham and Diamond Valley branches (on order through the mobile library). These kits contain water flow jugs, power meters and thermometers to assess your appliances for water and energy efficiency. These kits come with instructions and advice on how to use the information from your audit.
For further information or assistance, contact Council’s Sustainability Officer on 9433 3214.
Other useful resources:
The Victorian (Green) Smart Renters' Guide is a fantastic resource full of ideas, including how to approach your landlord about making improvements.
Including sustainable features in your rental property can give you an advantage over other property owners, while providing a well maintained, efficient, comfortable and healthy house will retain tenants for longer, reducing the number of vacant days and advertising costs.
It may also be possible to achieve higher rent levels when renters know that their ongoing running costs will be low. If the time comes to sell your property, marketing its sustainable features may well net you a premium.
From a cost perspective, you can claim the depreciation on upgrades to numerous items, such as efficient hot water systems, heating and cooling systems, curtains, external shading and water efficient taps and shower heads. Rebates are also available for some items.
Working with your tenant will help achieve the best possible outcome, and your tenants will often know exactly where the issues lie.