How to be a sustainable renter

Living Well | Jenna Meade | Posted on 01 July 2020

You don’t have to own your home to live more sustainably in a rental property. 

Living sustainably doesn’t have to involve renovations and installations usually accessible only to home buyers. As a renter, you can also enjoy a sustainable home life – without having to lure permission from your landlord. 

From property pre-checks and keeping the heat in the kitchen to hot tips for your hot-water system and planting your own produce, here’s how to make your rental property kinder to the earth – and your bank account. 

Lady hanging plants inside

Six ways to make your rental home more sustainable

Spot-check before you sign

Haven’t decided on a property yet? Do pre-checks to determine a home’s sustainability score. 

Check the property’s orientation at your inspection to see if the windows are north-facing, and therefore will benefit from streams of winter sunlight. Try to avoid large, west-facing windows as the afternoon sun will quickly heat the space in summer. Look for ceiling fans, ask about ceiling insulation and keep an eye out for draughts or leaking taps.

Cook up a sustainable storm

Keep the heat in your kitchen by checking your oven seals. Simply place a piece of paper between the oven and the oven door. If it slides down, the seals need replacing.

Check your fridge seals, too. Be sure your fridge is positioned in a cool spot away from the stove and direct sun, and keep at least 50 millimetres of space at its top, back and sides to allow for ventilation. You can boost your fridge’s efficiency by waiting until food has cooled before storing inside.

Hot tip for hot water

Hot-water systems are often culprits for high energy usage. Check the temperature to make sure yours is running efficiently. The tank temperature on storage hot-water systems should be set at about 60 degrees, while instantaneous systems should be set at 50 degrees or lower.

Go one step further and turn off your system, including the pilot light, when you go away for holidays or weekends. Your system should have instructions on how to re-light it on your return.

An oven and microwave
A hot water system

Keep heat out in summer

Get shady on your west and north-facing windows during the sunny summer months.

Consider investing in an external shade cloth or assemble large potted plants outside your window to block the harsh rays. Or pick up some cheap reflective film from a hardware store to reflect the sun. Simply cut it to shape and attach to your windows with velcro dots that can be removed when you move.

Keep heat in come winter

As well as lined curtains, you’ll need pelmets to keep the warmth inside throughout the chilly winter months. Pelmets are boxes that sit over the top of a curtain rod, preventing heat from escaping through the window. For a fast and cheap alternative, hang fabric from your window frames using removable velcro dots.

Got a skylight? Stop the heat escaping by sticking bubble wrap on the glass.

Grow your own goodness

Haven’t been blessed with a big backyard? You only need a small patch to grow your own produce. 

Try container-planting vegetables on your balcony, using old pallets as portable planters, or grow herbs on your windowsill. 

Be sure to position plants in the required sunlight, and save water by collecting rainwater to nurture your new creations.


Just because you don’t own the home you’re living in, doesn’t mean you don’t need to protect its contents, or yourselves, in case of an accident or emergency. Make sure your treasured possessions are covered with RACV Renter's Insurance.

When your important things are protected with RACV Renters Insurance, you can focus on other things