Winter is far from over, which means more salt on the roads and heavy coats out of the closet. What it doesn’t have to mean is another month of expensive heating bills. Here are some ways to make your property more efficient so that you and your tenants can reduce energy costs and save money.
Avoid heating devices that use electricity or heating oil.
Electric heating is the most common form in the United States, and is also one of the least efficient. As Energy.gov notes, “most electricity is produced from coal, gas, or oil generators that convert only about 30% of the fuel’s energy into electricity.” Making a switch to a more efficient heat source can make a massive impact on your energy costs over the winter months (and beyond). Combustion appliances – on-site natural gas, propane, and oil furnaces – are a common alternative and can save money on your bills, but they come with their drawbacks. Modern alternatives like geothermal and solar energy are becoming more effective, more affordable, and more common. These green options can feel particularly expensive when looking at the initial investment ($10 – 15k after tax credits), but can save big money on energy costs in the long-term ($600-1,500 on the year). So if you plan to make your rental property a long-term investment, invest in it! Consider switching energy sources to something much more efficient.
Programmable thermostats are essential.
Having a programmable thermostat doesn’t mean you’ll have to throw Apple a few hundred dollars to get a “smart” version that recognizes your voice. Programmable thermostats are simple, easy to use, and can drastically reduce your heating bills. Periods of the day when no tenants are in the house or at night when they’re all under the comfort of their blankets are great times to lower the temperature to the low 60’s or below. Energy.gov recommends setting the temperature to 68 degrees while you’re at home; lowering it by 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day can save you up to 10% a year on heating costs. That’s a tremendous difference, especially as heating and energy costs are projected to continue to rise (even more reason to get off the grid with green energy alternatives).
Additional Reading: Smart Homes in the Rental Market
Change your air filters.
Energy Star recommends changing your air filter every three months at least. That may seem like a lot, but it’s a quick switch that has a demonstrable impact on both the quality of air, and the efficiency of your heating and cooling sources. Changing them becomes essential during the winters months when they sustain the most use. Dirty filters reduce the amount of air that can get through, thereby reducing efficiency and jacking up heating bills, as well as causing lasting damage to your heating system. Replacing air filters becomes even more important if your tenants have pets – their dandruff will only cause further wear. And if you find yourself forgetting to do this, set up a Google Calendar, Apple Reminder, or use Innago’s own maintenance scheduling feature. Make it a recurring event and stick to it.
Additional Reading: 5 Rental Maintenance Tips For Durable Properties
Insulate your windows.
Windows are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to escaping heat, and there are several ways to make sure that precious warmth stays within your walls. Energy.gov says that the right type of drapery, when hung over windows, can reduce heat loss by up to 10%. In areas with particularly cold winters, such as Chicago, installing plastic window insulation can save you up to $100 a winter if you apply it to enough windows. Such products can stop leaks and drafts, and are inexpensive, especially in light of the savings they’ll give you.
Market your efforts!
Making such winter preparations helps save money and causes less damage to the environment, but they can also be used to make your property more attractive to renters. Market your property as one with numerous heat-saving installations that’ll lower energy costs in the winter months. You can also reduce the monthly rent slightly due to lower heating bills. Even $20 a month can be the difference for a prospective tenant assessing the market.
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