Feeling a bit chilly at home? I sure am and there’s not a heck of a lot I can do about it aside from small but still helpful actions such as strategic weatherstripping, sweater-wearing, and breaking out a small, energy-efficient space heater for zone heating.
Here’s the thing: I live in a drafty, horribly insulated rental apartment — new windows would really help, Mr. Landlord — on the top floor of an old building surrounded by the Lower New York Bay on three sides. I control my own gas heat (clunky old baseboard heaters) and that heat ain’t cheap. So instead of spending a good chunk of my income on keeping my place toasty, I choose to suffer just a bit.
I would by no means call my apartment “dangerously cold” but I'm certainly intrigued by a cold-busting coalition in the U.K., Friends of the Earth's (FOE's) Warm Homes campaign. The mission of the initiative, highlighted in a great post by Sami Grover over at TreeHugger, is to urge British lawmakers to make it illegal for landlords to rent dangerously cold rental apartments and homes by 2016. Grover sums it up beautifully: “Just as we don't allow landlords to rent out homes that are fire-hazards, or car companies to sell vehicles with inadequate breaks, it's time we made sure all homes conform to a minimum safety standard when it comes to efficiency.”
I couldn’t agree more. Referencing a report issued by watchdog group consumer focus, FOE explains:
The report shows that 40 per cent of the worst insulated properties could be improved for less than £1,500. These very cold, hard-to-heat homes are a serious health risk to people living in them. A recent poll for Friends of the Earth revealed tenants suffered most in the big freeze with half saying they felt uncomfortably cold at home. Houses rented from a landlord or lettings agency are the most likely to lack basics such as loft and cavity-wall insulation.
Head over to TreeHugger to read the full post where there's lots of great commenting going on and to the Warm Homes homepage to learn more.
Do you think an initiative like this would ever fly in the U.S., at least on a state-by-state or city-by-city basis? Are you a renter struggling with high bills and big chills? How are you coping?