I’ve noticed that a lot of people often use the phrase “Don’t worry about it, heat’s included in my rent,” or “Don’t worry about it, hydro’s included in my rent,” when the question of turning off the air conditioning, or lowering the heat by a couple of degrees in the winter to save energy. To me, it’s missing the point entirely. However, I can understand the reaction. Naturally, people want to get the best value for their money, and if they can increase their comfort or convenience, even marginally, for no extra cost to them, they’ll do it.

What I propose is this: make it illegal to include heat and hydro in the rent. If there was a law to prevent landlords from including heat and hydro in the rent, people would cut down on their consumption. I’m not sure what real impact this would have on the country’s total energy usage–probably it wouldn’t be significant compared to industry and vehicles–but it sure would make people think more about their environmental impact and make them more aware.

I know there will be lots of people who will raise objections to this, claiming that it makes things more complicated for landlords, or it would be difficult to divide heating and electrical costs for buildings with central systems, but it’s not rocket science. This is why we have calculators with divide buttons on them: for splitting up bills amongst multiple people.

I think we should always be thinking of simple ways to chip away at big problems. Every little bit counts.