Whether you rent out the studio apartment over your garage or oversee multiple units in several locations, keeping costs under control as a landlord is not without its challenges. Sure, there are capital improvements you can invest in to improve the energy efficiency of your properties, but there are a number of inexpensive ways to lower that utility bill while keeping emergency service calls to a minimum. Here are seven easy ways to improve the energy efficiency of your rental units.
A programmable or smart thermostat can help your tenants take better control of their energy usage and, when used properly, can lower energy bills by 10 to 15 percent. Many programmable thermostats can accommodate multiple daily settings, and can easily be put into manual mode without affecting the program.
Caulk and Seal Windows and Doors
Tiny gaps around doors and windows are responsible for much of the energy loss in a home – and this is especially true of older buildings. Sealing air leaks will not only keep heat in during the winter months, but will also keep heat out in the summer, reducing the need for air-conditioning. Expect to pay mere dollars per tube of caulk, plus a one-time investment of $10 to $20 for a caulk gun, in exchange for a savings of 10 to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs.
Seal Outlets and Switches
Installing foam gaskets behind the face plates of electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls is another great way to limit heat loss. The gaskets cost very little and can be installed in minutes.
Lower the Temperature of the Hot Water Heater
Some domestic hot water systems heat to upwards of 140 degrees. Not only is this completely unnecessary, but it presents a scalding risk as well. By dialing back the temperature to 120 degrees, you can expect a savings of 7 to 10 percent on water heating costs.
Stay on Top of Heating System Maintenance
Keeping the heating system in your rental unit in tip-top shape will help save money on your energy bill, but can also prevent costly after-hours service calls. Clean or replace furnace filters per manufacturer recommendations, and clean baseboard heaters, warm-air registers, and radiators as needed.
Switch to Energy-Saving LED Light Bulbs
Not only do LED light bulbs use 80 to 90 percent less energy than their incandescent counterparts, but they last up to 15 times longer as well. Many home improvement stores offer instant rebates on LED bulbs, and Unitil customers can order online through the NHSaves and Mass Save programs.
PRO TIP: Consider installing occupancy sensors in common areas such as laundry rooms and hallways to save electricity when these areas are unoccupied.
Install Low-Flow Faucet Aerators and Showerheads
This inexpensive fix will not only save up to 30 percent on your water bill but also as much as 40 percent on the energy costs to heat that water. Low-flow showerheads have come a long way in recent years – so much so that your tenants likely won’t know the difference. They’re available in many styles, including rainshower and handheld models, and often have multiple spray settings.
- When the time comes to replace aging appliances, be sure to look for ENERGY STAR equipment, which is up to 50% more efficient than standard appliances.
- Improving the energy efficiency of your rental property won’t just save money – it also demonstrates your commitment to the environment to potential renters.
- States and municipalities often have incentives for property owners to improve the energy efficiency of rental units, and you may also be eligible for federal tax credits.