Picky Pays: Eco-friendly apartment hunting

OK, so you need to get an apartment. A modern, cool, sustainable apartment. And you’re super picky. That’s a good thing. At Toggle®, we encourage pickiness because picky people get exactly what they want. Dating, movie choices, restaurants, cars, clothes, and where you work—there’s plenty to be picky about, but the most fun of all, of course, is picking the perfect apartment. 

Toggle-blog__0004_kyoshi-reyes-Ps_ujcY0oT8-unsplashPhoto by Kyoshi Reyes on Unsplash

Yes, there are sites to help you in your apartment search. You can set filters and get really specific: view apartments that have a pool, ones equipped with the modern luxury of in-unit laundry, and pet-friendly apartments for your furry roommate (btw, check out our blog on Pet Parent®, our modern pet liability insurance add-on coverage for renters).   

But for the more discerning apartment picker, these sites may not go far enough; they don’t have filters for sustainable amenities like LED bulbs and renewable energy sources. At Toggle, we love the idea of making renting smarter and easier. So we’re here to be your eco apartments helper with a whole bunch of considerations for your eco-picky apartment search.

Toggle-blog__0001_Stocksy_txp8ea5b0f85YZ300_Medium_2616805Photo by Mauro Grigollo 

Insist on energy efficient appliances

When touring an apartment, it’s easy to snap into raccoon mode and gravitate wide-eyed towards the shiny new appliances. However, and this is where being picky pays, just because they’re shiny and new doesn’t mean they’re energy efficient appliances. If you can, why not choose rental units with energy efficient refrigerators, dishwashers, and smart thermostats? If you’re able to be even more eco friendly, choose apartments with Energy Star certified appliances. This certification is a widely recognized and trusted label on products that meet strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A.K.A., they’re eco-legit. Your space-age microwave can save you money on electricity, which you can then reallocate to your popcorn budget. It’s called good microwave karma. 

Toggle-blog__0003_rune-enstad-UXFJ-6Zj27M-unsplashPhoto by Rune Enstad on Unsplash

Location, location, location. 

Save yourself from ghastly gas prices by narrowing in on the walkable neighborhoods. It’s better for the environment—one of the main points of this blog—and it’s great for your legs. Get your steps in with proximity to amenities like grocery stores, public transit, restaurants, bars, gyms, and shopping. Search “the most walkable neighborhoods in [insert your city]” to get started. If you regularly hit the city center for work, focus on the transit-oriented, commuter-friendly properties. Why drive when you can read on the train or creep on your crush's socials while heading to punch in? 

If your city doesn’t have a maze of excellent public transportation, don’t worry. Our blog, “Mission possible: driving eco-friendly,” can help you to still drive and live sustainably.

Toggle-blog__0007_gautam-krishnan-HY0rharGti0-unsplashPhoto by Gautam Krishnan on Unsplash

Community gardens. Cute and sustainable. 

Delicious homegrown heirloom tomatoes aren’t just a quaint, old thing of the past. Super eco-friendly apartment buildings now offer community gardens. Aside from the price of fresh produce being rather stupid, complexes with an onsite crop hookup help reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. They cut down on “food miles”—the distance from farm to table. There’s no need to fly your chili peppers in from Chile. Save some green, grow local, and go green. Grab an apartment with a garden.

Toggle-blog__0002_steve-adams-bY_q4VodUc0-unsplashPhoto by Steve Adams on Unsplash

Make smart choices. 

We have smartphones, smart watches, smart cars. It’s time for smart apartments. 

Heating and cooling are responsible for nearly 50% of the energy used in an average U.S. home (source: U.S. Energy Information Administration). What if we had some sort of apparatus that can adjust to the weather, can heat and cool specific rooms when a person is detected, and can be controlled from a single app? Oh, hang on… we have that. It’s called a smart thermostat. 

Smart lighting will help our future stay bright despite your roommate’s habit of forgetting to turn off the lights. These quick-witted bulbs can be controlled remotely, set to a timer, and even dimmed to use less energy. Before signing your lease, check if the unit is equipped with LED lights. It can help shrink your future energy costs. 

Toggle-blog__0008_bence-boros-anapPhJFRhM-unsplashPhoto by BENCE BOROS on Unsplash

Conduct a building background check. 

If the building or rental home you’re considering isn’t LEED Certified, consider conducting your own background check, just like you would when dating someone. If it’s a relatively new building, management should be able to provide information on the building's energy efficiency. Obviously, if the building is a 1920s charmer, don’t expect them to be able to dig up this info from the crypt. 

Recycling is a no-brainer, but it’s up to local governments to require apartment complexes to recycle. If you live in an area that does not require recycling, do your due diligence. Ask the complex if they offer it. If they don’t, that’s an eco-renting red flag. That’s not the kind of '90s throwback we’re looking for.

Eco-renting green flag: buildings that recycle and operate on renewable energy sources—like wind and solar power. Super dreamy for those interested in zero waste apartment living. Some conscientious developers are also rocking aesthetically pleasing, eco-friendly building materials like reclaimed wood and metals, cork, and bamboo. Such an eco-turn-on, in our opinion. These materials help reduce the environmental impacts of a building’s construction and operation. Sustainable is in, baby.

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Find a natural lighting stunner.  

The most current designers are making buildings with more windows to maximize natural lighting and reduce the need for light fixtures—also known as “daylighting.” It’s pretty straightforward: more natural light equals less energy used on light bulbs. It’s also great for your golden-hour selfie game. 

Caveat: if you find a solarium-like apartment, make sure the apartment is equipped with energy efficient windows. Janky windows will make your heating and air conditioning work much harder, canceling out any energy saved with natural light. Heat gain and heat loss through windows are responsible for 25%–30% of residential heating and cooling energy use (source: Energy.gov). Ask your leasing agent or future landlord about the status of the windows and if they would be willing to replace them if they look like survivors from the colonial era.  

Toggle-blog__0005_kate-darmody-m40vzmdVMR8-unsplashPhoto by Kate Darmody on Unsplash

Picky eco-renters insist on LEED Certification. 

LEED stands for the “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” program. LEED Certified buildings must be resource efficient and use less water and energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There are four tiers of LEED scoring excellence, and nope, they’re not handing out Platinum and Gold scores like lollipops at the doctor’s office. True, eco friendly apartments aren’t always LEED Certified, but if you would like to be a leader in sustainable apartment living, and have the means, get picky and insist on LEED-only buildings. 

Ready to find the one? 

Knowing what’s best for the planet means not settling for anything less. Living in an eco friendly apartment pays off in a number of way: your energy bill should be cheaper, you can enjoy better air quality, and your overall quality of life can be better. Our customers, living their best lives, that’s our dream. Toggle Renters Insurance is designed for people who are picky and know what’s best for themselves. Your preferences are built into our name—as in “Toggle on and off” what you believe is best for you. 

Stay picky, 

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