Southern California environment news and trends

How to green your apartment rental

Governor Jerry Brown recently called for more investments in local rooftop solar energy. This is fantastic news for California homeowners, but what about the millions who rent their homes? It’s not like we can just step out onto our rooftops and start setting up solar without permission from landlords and the like. But not to worry, there are several ways you can still green your home to improve your energy bills and carbon footprint.

First, consider living in a place in a neighborhood that has a high walkability score. The more you walk to your bank, grocery store, library, and school, the less time you spend in your car. And who doesn’t love a life with less traffic in the Southland?

Make sure your appliances are set at energy efficient levels. In California, many apartments are rented without refrigerators, so you often have to buy your own. Consider investing in an Energy Star refrigerator, which can cut your energy bills by $165 for the lifetime of the appliance.


How to green your dishwasher

Recently, I lived a decade without a dishwasher. So when I met my current dishwasher, I greeted this appliance as one might greet an alien spaceship. In other words, I was thrilled about the potential collaborations but also unsure if the planet was going to be harmed in some spectacular fashion. After all, it had to be greener to hand wash your dishes, right?

Luckily, it turns out that your dishwasher can be your best ally in the battle for green, clean dishes. Did you know that washing by dishwasher is actually considered greener than washing your dishes by hand? As The Guardian reports, the numbers show that even “the most careful hot-water hand washing just about beats a fully loaded dishwasher.” The numbers have crossed the pond here to Southern California, where the ultimate green guru (and actor) Ed Begley Jr. points out that a dishwasher uses less water than a human.


How to get better gas mileage

Want to get more for your gas dollar? You could invest a hybrid car. Or you could leave the car at home by telecommuting, carpooling, and using alternative transportations. However, these actions are not always practical for everyone to implement. Not to worry, as you can still make some quick changes to your traveling routine with a savings to both your wallet and carbon footprint.

First, slow down. You’re cruising along at 70 mph, which is a speed our grandparents might have felt reasonable to take us to the moon. Instead, you’re getting honked at for going too slow as Southern Californians fly past you in the left lanes. But guess what? Dollar for dollar, your gas mileage is better. As The Daily Green reports, “For every 5 mph you reduce highway speed, you can reduce fuel consumption by 7%.” So even slowing from 70 to 65 mph saves you money. Take that, speed demons.

Next, practice a better driving technique. A Southland driving school handbook could be written in two sentences. Drive, stop, drive, stop, go as fast as you can until you have to stop. Then park. But guess what? Our jerky stop-and-starting is terrible for fuel efficiency, not to mention our brake pads. Also, consider opening the windows to cool the car down. The more energy your car uses, the more money you spend.