Not only are "green" rental properties becoming increasingly trendy as energy issues continue to gain public awareness, energy efficient rentals benefit both landlords and tenants. While landlords reap the benefits of owning premium, highly desirable properties, tenants get to enjoy cozier dwellings and lower utility bills. With this in mind, we've scoured the Internet to compile a list of the top five home improvements that can cut utility costs.
Instead of forcing renters to manually change the thermostat as the weather changes, it may be ideal for property owners and managers to install a programmable thermostat. These modernized thermostats can be scheduled to change the temperature of the unit based on personal preference for various times of the day and seasons.
These devices cost as little as $25, are widely available at home improvement stores, and can yield nearly $200 in savings per year in utility expenses.
Without adequately sealed windows and door frames, rental units can let out heat when tenants try to warm up their apartments during cold months and cool air when they attempt to chill their home during hot seasons. According to Energy Star, weather-stripping windows and door frames is something landlords should take into serious consideration to prevent renters from wasting energy.
Additionally, cracks can sometimes be hidden from the naked eye, so inspecting a property for small seams where cool or warm air - depending on the season - can seep out of a unit. SmartMoney advises caulking these cracks to effectively seal them and prevent wasted electricity.
If you're not sure whether your insulation is protecting your home from outdoor temperatures as well as it might be, a good first step might be to have a home energy audit done (or find do-it-yourself instructions on online.)
This audit should reveal whether you have proper insulation in key locations such as your attic, ducts, ceiling, walls, basements, etc.
There are many different types of insulation, and an expert can tell you whether you're using the right types of insulation in the right places. For example, spray foam or loose fill insulation is best for unfinished attic floors and crawlspace walls, while fiber insulation works best around ducts. There are several choices for insulating walls, from classic, blanket-style insulation to foam board or concrete block insulation.
Changing out incandescent light bulbs for more modern ones, such as compact fluorescent bulbs, can considerably reduce a property's utility bill each month. By simply switching one incandescent in exchange for a compact fluorescent, property owners can see energy savings totaling around $35 during the life of the light bulb, according to SmartMoney magazine. Multiply that by however many light bulbs your property has and those savings could be significant in the long term.
Fine Homebuilding also says fluorescent offer the best cost option for landlords, as they are appropriately priced at home improvement stores in comparison to other energy-efficient models.
A substantial portion of a property's utility expenses for an entire year occur during the warm months, when tenants tend to turn on their air conditioners for extensive periods of time to stay cool. While these appliances typically get the job done, the energy they use can be costly for many owners.
Should you have central AC at your residence, Kiplinger advises you cap temperatures to drop no further than 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing so, the source states, can save you 3 to 5 percent on monthly electric bills.
Property owners without central air systems may want to consider installing fans in their units, which can be more cost-efficient than ACs and still keep renters cool when the temperatures reach high levels during summer.