Utilities are an essential part of renting or owning real estate. But keeping the lights on, water flowing, and the home heated and cooled can be expensive. If you're like most tenants or landlords right now, you may be wondering how to lower your utility bill while still maintaining a safe, comfortable rental property. Luckily, there are a number of ways, both big and small, that landlords and tenants can reduce the monthly energy bill while adding value to the property and appeal to tenants.
Install LED Lights
LED lighting is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to help reduce energy consumption. LED bulbs use anywhere from 25% to 80% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs while lasting 3 to 25 times longer. Installing LED lights throughout the interior and exterior of the home will mean fewer light bulb replacements over time and more cost savings for the tenant.
Changing air filters frequently
If your property has an air conditioning or HVAC system, it's extremely important to monitor, clean, and replace the air filter regularly. Operating an HVAC without a filter or with a dirty, clogged filter can cause damage to the unit and reduce the lifespan and efficiency of the system, as it has to work harder to cool or heat the unit.
EnergyStar suggests changing the air filter at minimum every three months, but in high-usage months, including summer and winter, it may be necessary to change the filter each month. It's a good idea to provide your tenants with replacement air filters and send friendly reminders, or your own handyman, to replace the filters according to the proper schedule. Air filter replacements are pretty inexpensive, making it a great low-cost way to ensure the unit is running optimally.
Add aerators to faucets
Aerators can be an inexpensive way to help minimize water consumption and thus lower the water bill for a tenant. Aerators add air to the water flow, reducing water consumption by as much as 50% in some cases. Considering aerators cost anywhere from $2 to $5 per unit, it's a great solution for landlords on a budget.
Smart-home features, like a programmable thermostat, are a growing trend and highly sought after when it comes to buying homes, but they can be an added feature in your rental property too. Programmable thermostats, or smart thermostats, work with the air conditioning or heating system to lower or raise the temperature during certain hours of the day, automatically reducing energy usage.
- Energy-efficient appliances
Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances can surely lead to a lower utility bill but can be expensive for some landlords. Rather than replacing your unit's appliances all at once, make sure each unit is running as efficiently and optimally as possible, and replace and upgrade as the units go out. Replacing a 10-year-old water heater that's inefficiently heating will improve the tenant's energy cost and add value to the property if and when you choose to sell. You can also add things like a timer to the water heater to only run during certain hours of the day, or increase the temperature on the refrigerator to improve cooling and energy use.