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Eco-Friendly Solutions for Your Rental Property That Can Boost Savings

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Do your tenants complain that the electricity bill is through the roof? Are you finding that your property’s energy usage is consistently on the rise? Are your appliances starting to show their age and using more energy than they should?

If so, then your rental property might be in need of a green upgrade.

Going green is a win-win strategy that can offer multiple benefits. Not only to the environment, but also to your property, and your tenants as well. According to one recent survey, 40% of renters surveyed said that green practices are a critical factor in choosing a rental property.

If you’d like to make your rental more eco-friendly, the good news is that you don’t need to make massive changes all at once. Even small steps can help you to move in the right direction. In this article, we’ll look at simple upgrades that you can make right away, like choosing energy-efficient light bulbs, along with more significant switches like sustainable flooring materials, that you can plan for. Read on to see how you can start making your rental more eco-friendly, potentially helping you (and your tenants) to save.

What’s a Green Rental Property?

Before going any further, it’s essential to establish what makes a home eco-friendly. 

Environmentally friendly homes use energy and water-saving systems and appliances that provide optimal performance. Eco-friendly homes also use sustainable materials and practices that have a smaller environmental impact as well.

Energy use is undoubtedly a massive part of the equation, so it’s essential to keep it in check. In the United States, on average, more than half of a household’s energy use goes to heating and cooling. On average, water heating, lighting, and refrigeration use 25% of home energy, while the rest is spent on things like the TV, kitchen appliances, and small electronics. 

Typical homes are energy (and money) drains. Heat, water usage, and electricity costs are excessive due to outdated fixtures or a lack of conservation efforts. Aside from the negative ecological impact, occupants can suffer from health problems that arise from poor indoor air quality and temperature regulation as well.

Potential Benefits of Green Initiatives for Landlords and Tenants

  • Lower Operating Costs

One of the most immediate financial benefits of green housing is the chance to reduce operating costs if you own a multifamily building or pay for energy costs at your rentals. However, even if your tenants pay for energy bills, there are still some green upgrades that you can make that could benefit you economically. 

  • Potentially Increased Property Value

Energy-efficient upgrades, such as double-glazed windows and proper insulation, can enhance the property’s attractiveness to potential tenants. In some cases, a landlord may even be able to charge higher rent for a property that’s had certain eco-friendly upgrades to it. 

  • Reduced Maintenance Costs

Eco-friendly practices can also lead to lower maintenance costs in the long run. Durable building materials can extend the lifespan of property components, reducing the frequency of replacements and repairs. Properties with well-maintained green features often experience fewer issues with moisture, mold, and pests, resulting in fewer maintenance headaches and expenses.

  • Tax Benefits and Incentives

Landlords who invest in green initiatives may qualify for various tax benefits and funding, depending on their eligibility, location, and the nature of their upgrades. Landlords can offset their initial investment costs and achieve a quicker return on investment by taking advantage of these programs, so be sure to check if you’re eligible.

  • Happier Tenants

Tenants are increasingly interested in environmentally friendly and energy-efficient living spaces. These homes are also often more comfortable thanks to improved heating, cooling, and ventilation. Do your tenants pay for their own utility bills? Helping them save on a regular basis could benefit them directly, which may contribute to higher tenant satisfaction. 

8 Green Initiatives to Help You Save Money and Keep Tenants Happy

Are you responsible for the heating and cooling, electricity, or water bills for your property? Or perhaps you’re just looking for upgrades requiring less maintenance in the long run. Maybe you’d like to attract long-term tenants willing to pay a premium for green upgrades. Whatever the reason, here’s a look at some initiatives that could help you to save you money, especially if you make them as-needed, upgrading appliances as they break down, or installing new double-glazing windows as it makes sense to do so.

  1. Energy-Efficient Appliances

Energy-efficient appliances may have a higher upfront cost, but they typically result in long-term savings due to lower energy consumption. When it’s time to upgrade outdated or broken appliances, consider looking for those with the ENERGY STAR label. These appliances are designed to use less energy.

Large appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and water heaters consume a significant amount of energy. Consider prioritizing replacing or upgrading these appliances. Modern energy-efficient refrigerators not only save energy but also keep food fresher for longer, decreasing food waste as well. Dishwashers are another water and energy-hungry appliance. An ENERGY STAR-certified dishwasher uses less water and energy while still providing efficient cleaning.

  1. LED Lighting

Don’t underestimate the impact of lighting choices. Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights cuts down electricity consumption significantly. LED bulbs are known for their energy efficiency and long lifespan, making them a cost-effective choice for homes. This is also an extremely simple and affordable upgrade to make.

  1. Smart Thermostats and Automated Technology

Installing smart thermostats allows tenants to control their heating and cooling systems more efficiently, lowering both energy usage and costs. Smart thermostats allow programmed heating and cooling schedules to match occupants’ daily routines. This prevents unnecessary energy consumption when no one is home, or tenants are asleep.

Smart home technology is not only convenient, but it also has excellent energy-saving capabilities. Many smart thermostats can be controlled remotely via a smartphone app, allowing temperature adjustments even when the tenant is away from home.

But don’t worry; you don’t need an extensive home automation setup to enjoy the benefits of smart technology in your rental unit. Affordable smart devices like smart bulbs and plugs can be easily installed in a rental unit’s existing light fixtures and outlets, allowing remote adjustments to lights and appliances. They also provide insights into energy usage as well.

Build-to-rent homes could be great eco-friendly options. Some of these homes are built with sustainable materials, and you can install energy-efficient appliances from the start. Read Why Build-to-Rent Might Be the Best Choice for You for more details.

  1. Water Conservation Measures

In addition to energy conservation, water conservation is another green initiative. Water-saving measures can lower water bills and reduce the strain on local water resources. Water-efficient fixtures can also help tenants to keep an eye on their water usage.

Consider using these water-saving fixtures and appliances:

  • Low-Flow Faucets: Replace traditional faucets with low-flow faucets that restrict water flow without sacrificing water pressure. These faucets can lower water usage by up to 60%.

  • Low-Flow Showerheads: Similar to low-flow faucets, low-flow showerheads save water while maintaining a satisfying shower experience. They can cut water usage by up to 50%, reducing consumption from 13 liters to 7 liters per minute.

  • Dual-Flush Toilets: Dual-flush toilets can help tenants to use less water, resulting in a significant water savings over time.

  • Energy-Efficient Washing Machines: Front-loading washing machines are generally more energy and water-efficient than top-loading models. Appliance expert Myles Robinson says that front-load washers tend to be 25% to 50% more efficient than top-loaders. To save even more energy during laundry days, tenants can also use cold water for washing clothes whenever possible.

  1. Insulation and Windows

Insulation is sometimes overlooked but a critical component of energy efficiency. Adequate insulation helps maintain a comfortable indoor temperature while scaling down the need for heating and cooling, ultimately leading to lower energy bills.

If your rental unit lacks proper insulation, here are steps you can take to address it:

  • Window Treatments: Window treatments such as curtains or blinds are a simple, cost-effective way to reduce heat transfer and add privacy to your rental unit.

  • Seal Gaps and Cracks: Ensure that existing windows are properly sealed to prevent drafts. Use weatherstripping and caulk to seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors.

  • Energy-Efficient Windows: Energy-efficient windows are designed to minimize heat loss during the winter and heat gain during the summer. If the existing windows are old and inefficient, consider upgrading to energy-efficient windows. Look for windows with a high U-factor and low-E glass for optimal insulation.

  • Attic Insulation: Want to keep energy bills from going through the roof? Insulating the attic could help! Attic insulation can help to improve energy efficiency. It prevents heat from escaping through the roof during the winter and keeps your rental unit cooler in the summer.

  • Wall Insulation: If feasible, consider adding insulation to the walls. This can be done during renovations or by injecting insulation into wall cavities.

  • Floor Insulation: If your rental unit has an unfinished basement, insulating the floor above it can help maintain a consistent indoor temperature.

Fall maintenance is essential as soon as temperatures start to drop. Read Fall Maintenance Tips for Your Rental Property for tips that help cut energy and utility costs during winter.

  1. Landscaping Choices

Green initiatives aren’t limited to the interior of your rental unit. A rental’s outdoor space provides an opportunity to make eco-friendly choices that can benefit both the environment, your tenant, and your budget as well.

Here are some outdoor green initiatives:

  • Choose plants that are well-suited to your region’s climate and require less water. For example, if your unit is in a hot and arid place like Arizona, cacti and succulents are excellent choices as they tolerate droughts and won’t need constant watering.

  • Applying mulch and ground covers helps retain moisture in the soil, diminishing the need for frequent watering and preventing weed growth.

  • Is your rental property in an area that gets a lot of rain? Consider installing rain barrels for collecting rainwater. Rainwater can be used for watering the garden or other tasks like washing the car.

  1. Sustainable Flooring and Materials

If you’re renovating or looking to upgrade your rental’s flooring, look for sustainable construction materials. They’re often made from recycled or renewable resources and can contribute to a greener living space.

Here are some sustainable choices to consider:

  • Bamboo Flooring: Bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource that makes an excellent flooring material. It’s durable, visually appealing, and eco-friendly.

  • Cork Flooring: Cork is another sustainable option made from the bark of cork oak trees. It’s comfortable underfoot, insulating, and resistant to mold and mildew.

  • Reclaimed Wood: Using reclaimed wood for flooring adds character and lowers the demand for new timber. It’s a unique option that appeals to environmentally conscious renters.

  • Linoleum: Linoleum can be a sustainable choice. Linoleum is made from a combination of synthetic and natural materials. It’s durable, easy to clean, and available in various colors and patterns.

  • Salvaged or Reclaimed Materials: Incorporating salvaged or reclaimed materials into your rental unit’s design saves you money and can give it a one-of-a-kind, rustic charm.

  1. Solar Panels

Don’t underestimate the positive investment in solar panels. Though the upfront cost may seem hefty, not only does it significantly reduce electricity, heating, and cooling bills over time. Due to the high initial cost of solar panels, this is one upgrade that could make the most sense if you have a multifamily building and pay the utilities yourself. Of course, you’ll want to do a cost-benefit analysis before you install solar panels, to make sure the savings will pay off over time.

Embracing sustainability is a journey, and it’s perfectly fine to take it one step at a time. If you don’t have the resources yet to tackle some of the bigger upgrades, start small and do what you can for now. Each small step can have a big impact, even if it’s something small like choosing LED light bulbs, sealing windows, or planting more shrubs and trees in the garden. Aside from the financial savings, green initiatives can make your unit more comfortable and convenient, which could lead to happier tenants all around. 

Too busy to do these green initiatives yourself or don’t know where to start? A property management company can help you get the ball rolling. At Renters Warehouse, we offer 24/7 hassle-free property management. We can take some of the work off your hands so you can focus on growing your profit and investment portfolio. And don’t forget to check out our Education Center for more helpful investor tips.

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