Some rental properties offer to pay all the energy bills to attract more tenants. It’s a highly attractive strategy, particularly for millennials who make up the majority of renters today.
Millennials are always looking for ways to reduce things on their list of things to do and payments to make, and rent that includes the cost of utilities is a great way to save. Even landlords who don’t offer all-inclusive rent coverage would like to lower the cost of utilities at their rental properties.
It’s a great way to attract more renters. Living in a quality unit without the extra cost of utilities and other hidden fees is very attractive. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to reduce the energy bills on any rental property.
Here are some ideas.
- Install Programmable Tech
Technology will be your best friend when it comes to reducing energy bills and shrinking the impact of your rental property on the environment. Start with a programmable thermostat. You can save three percent on your heating bill for every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat level.
To put that into context, imagine you turned your thermostat down from 75 degrees to 72. That represents a 9 percent saving on your utility bill.
When you think about the fact that the average cost of utilities for a two-bedroom apartment in Texas is about $150, a three-degree reduction could save you as much as $200 per year. A programmable thermostat could be the catalyst to major energy savings.
This type of tech can be programmed to run when you’re at home and shut off during the day when you’re out. This way, your tenants’ heat isn’t running while they’re at work for eight hours or more per day.
Lighting can also be programmed. There are many ways to control the lighting within a home. You might use motion-sense lights, which turn off when there’s no one in a room and switch on when they sense someone moving.
Lights can also be programmed on the exterior of a home to turn off and on at certain times. That way you don’t have to worry about your tenants forgetting to turn off the pesky front porch light and wasting energy all night long.
The best aspect of these programmable tech tools is that you can usually control them from a smartphone or other mobile device. That way, your tenants can control the energy consumption from anywhere, and you can also keep tabs on the system if need be.
- Seal Air Leaks
One of the biggest contributors to rising energy costs in a rental unit is air leaks. You often find them around windows where the seals may have cracked or weakened over time.
This is particularly common in old buildings where the windows have single panes or old frames. Take some time to check the windows and make adjustments where necessary.
It’s also smart to install gaskets behind your outlets and switches. This will prevent unnecessary heat loss and air infiltration. You can tell if a gasket is needed by putting your hand up to the plate: If you can feel air coming through, a gasket might solve the problem.
- Adjust the Water Heater
Many landlords choose to turn the water heater to a higher setting in order to avoid tenant complaints, but this will primarily result in reduced energy efficiency.
Set your water heater at the lowest comfortable setting. Setting it too high will not only result in scalding water but also wasted energy.
Updates to your tank may also be necessary. An old tank may need an insulating jacket to keep the heat inside. Better yet, replace the entire unit with an EnergyStar-rated model. The EnergyStar rating guarantees maximum efficiency in an appliance.
- Change the Lighting
Investigate the lighting in the rental unit. Some lights and fixtures consume a lot more energy than others.
For example, recessed lighting looks great, but it typically requires special bulbs that run hot and use a lot of energy. Equip your rental property with compact fluorescent lights (CFL), rather than incandescent light bulbs.
Incandescent bulbs sink 90 percent of their energy into heat. CFLs put very little energy toward heat, so they dispel the inefficiencies of old light bulbs.
- Add Window Treatments
Window treatments perform a dual purpose in lowering your energy bills. Their first function is to create an insulation barrier. When it’s warm outside, curtains, blinds, or shutters will keep the hot air outside where it belongs. When it’s cold, they will defend the room from leaking air.
The other purpose is to block the sun during hot summer days. When the afternoon sun is beating directly into a room, it can raise the interior temperature several degrees. Window treatments will block the sun from filling the room. When you want warm sun in the winter, open the blinds or curtains to collect free heat.
Make sure there are good-quality treatments over every window, particularly those that face the west when the afternoon sun gets the strongest. Encourage your tenants to add their own window treatments as well to protect the interior from outside temperatures.
- Compose an Energy Policy
Get your tenants on the same page with your conservation efforts by writing a policy for them to follow. You might consider including the policy in their contract to make it legally binding for tenants.
In the policy, discuss the importance of conserving energy whenever possible. Some examples of stipulations might include:
- Set your thermostats no higher than 74 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and no lower than 74 degrees in summer.
- When replacing light bulbs, always use CFLs or LEDs.
- Look for the EnergyStar rating on all personal appliances.
- Set the water heater at no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
These policies could significantly lower your energy bills and raise the satisfaction of your tenants.
Contact Green Residential Today!
At Green Residential, we know everything about how to make your tenants happier where they live. At the same time, we know how to make your landlord experience easier and more cost-effective.
We’ve been working as property managers in the Houston and Katy areas for more than 30 years. For more information about how we can help you save time and money with your rental property, contact us today!