Here are 6 ways to cut utility costs.
In the age of “going green” and “saving the planet” you can also save some green if you make simple changes to your rental property and think ahead. Here are 6 ways to cut utility costs for rental property owners and landlords.
Energy audits, appliance upgrades and resident education are among several simple changes that will cut costs.
Energy savings in rentals requires more than just replacing outdated fixtures, appliances and HVAC systems with newer models. Although these upgrades typically reduce resident complaints and maintenance requests, increase resident satisfaction and cut operating expenses, bigger-picture steps also can help owners save money.
1. Energy audit
Before spending money on materials and equipment, identify strategies that are most cost-effective. Energy audits look at where and how energy is used and identify ways to improve building operation.
A comprehensive energy audit will include a walk-through survey. Based on that survey, the auditor will develop a list of potential energy conservation measures (ECMs); analyze each measure or group of ECMs for cost-effectiveness; and develop a prioritized list of recommendations.
Dan Pelligrini, President of Cooperative Community Energy, an energy management consulting firm in northern California, said some buildings could reduce their energy use by 5 percent to 20 percent after implementing the recommendations of an audit. Many local utility companies will do these audits free of charge.
2. Compact florescent lighting
Many local electric providers are also encouraging their customers to make this switch. Check with your local companies to see if they are providing light bulbs for free or a much reduced cost to rental owners.
The compact florescent lamps last 10 times longer, and the lighting is so much better.
3. Appliances and utility costs
Appliances can make a big difference, too. Pelligrini said the refrigerator is the single largest energy user in a rental. “If the model is seven to eight years old, we recommend replacing it with a new Energy Star model, which uses about half the energy,” he said.
An in-unit Energy Star-qualified clothes washer can save $576 in energy and water bills over its useful life when compared to a conventional washer. In a laundry facility, where the machines can get more use, Energy Star-qualifies washers save $1,227 over 10 years compared to non-qualified models.
There are many ways to save in this area. The first opportunity is water saving toilets.
The future is low flow toilets. If you have toilets made after 1995 consider installing water saving toilets. High efficiency low flow toilets use at least 20% less water. That’s 1.28 gallons per flush or less, saving you even more on your water bills.
There are also High efficiency Toilets or HETs. New high efficiency toilets, or HET’s, not only save more water, but in many instances they even outperform standard 1.6gpf models. Today some of the best flushing toilets are HET’s that use new technologies to provide an even more complete flush while using less water.
ARPOLA members can purchase HET toilets using the ARPOLA Home Depot Program.
It’s important to note that selecting the best toilets for your home requires taking some other important features into consideration. Some models can not only outperform others, they also can provide added comfort. For example dual flush toilets can save homeowners 20% to 40% more water than 1.6 gpf models, and all with just the push of a button.
Don’t forget that the government is helping us embrace conservation with rebates and cash back incentives. You may get your local water provider to help you pick up the tab for your new low flush toilet. Many local water municipalities are offering rebates and cash back incentives for purchasing water saving models. Check with your local water municipality before you purchase.
5. Filters for heating and cooling
Changing filters monthly will reduce airborne dust and protect your unit from being over-worked. Most systems use the inexpensive filters but check with your manufacturer. ARPOLA recommends providing these for your tenant to avoid requiring them to go to the store-one less excuse for handling the filter change.
As a rental property owner you may not be too concerned about your tenant’s water bill but a dead plant or tree will surely get your attention. Consider hearty plants that require little maintenance. If you can install an underground irrigation system then little attention needs to be paid to the plants other than regular grooming.
There are many ways to cut utility costs and save energy if you wish to be more “green” and to save money on your rental property. Some savings may be passed on to your tenant but it’s worth considering that a lower utility bill may allow you to charge more in rent. Visit www.energysavers.gov for many additional energy saving steps and suggestions.