Energy-efficiency is on a lot of minds lately. Not only is there a sense of urgency to embrace a greener lifestyle; the cost of basic services and utilities continues to rise, and just about everyone wants to save money on electric and water bills whenever possible.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, residential energy consumption accounts for almost 20 percent of U.S. energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. And, a Harvard study found that rental properties use more energy than owner-occupied properties.
There’s plenty of room for better and more efficient energy usage in residential homes, especially rental units. Investing in energy-efficient upgrades for your Golden, CO rental home is a good idea. Not only is it better for the planet, but it’s also better for your tenant’s utility bills. It will also attract better residents to your property when they’re looking for a new home.
Let’s dive into some of the benefits of investing in these types of upgrades, and which ones make the most sense for you as a Golden rental property owner.
Tenants Save Money on Energy Bills
More and more residents are working remotely on a permanent basis, which means they’re at home more frequently, using electricity and water and maybe gas, too.
The increased usage drives up the bill. That, and recently higher prices due to inflation can make things feel pretty dire for your residents.
When your appliances, systems, and amenities are helping tenants to lower their bills without using less of what they need, you’re scoring some points with them. Tenants, even while trying to conserve energy, will still need heat in the winter. They’ll still require hot water for their showers, even if they’re taking shorter showers.
It’s important to educate tenants on how to reduce what they use and pay. The U.S. Department of Energy has a lot of handy resources on how to set a thermostat for maximum efficiency, when to keep the lights off, and how it’s important to disconnect unused equipment and electronics from a power source.
That’s good information, and when you can complement those recommendations with a dishwasher that uses less water or upgraded landscaping to allow for natural light in the property, you’re providing real value to your residents.
Attracting High-Quality Tenants to Your Property
These upgrades will save money for you and your tenants since both of you pay the utilities from time to time. Even if your tenants set up their own accounts while they’re occupying your property, you will be responsible for those costs during turnover and vacancy periods.
The benefits go beyond saving money on utility bills.
You’ll also be able to use your energy-efficient systems and appliances as a selling point when you’re marketing your rental property. Modern tenants are looking for a property that doesn’t waste energy. Younger tenants are especially more mindful of sustainability and energy conservation.
Tenants looking for a home in Golden are more likely to show interest in a property that will allow them to save money in unique ways. They’ll notice the changes you’ve made, even if they’re minor. LED lights will be preferred over incandescent bulbs. They’ll appreciate the programmable thermostats, not only because of the potential savings but because they can feel good about not causing further harm to the planet.
Not only will you attract a larger pool of tenants, but you’ll also be more likely to retain them.
Protecting Your Investment and Its Value
Turning your rental property into an energy-efficient home does more than just lower the utility bills and attract great tenants. An energy-efficient home helps with preventative maintenance. It ensures that your property’s value continues to grow.
Energy-efficient appliances and systems will prevent the build-up of condensation, protecting your investment property from mildew and mold growth. Opting for energy-efficient appliances can preserve your home, especially when the home is left empty during vacancies or when your residents are out of town.
Investing in environmentally sound solutions designed to conserve energy and limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will make your property more valuable, now, and when you decide to sell it. In the future, these types of upgrades will be expected. It won’t be an option. Why not get ahead of the curve now, and position yourself as a leader?
Conduct an Energy Audit
When you decide to make some energy-efficient changes, you’ll need to know where to start.
The most logical beginning is with an energy audit. You need to know where you stand with what you currently have at your rental property. An energy audit can identify a rental property’s energy drainers and provide a reasonable and cost-efficient starting place for cutting energy usage at scale. An energy audit provides owners with data that can be used to make good decisions.
Your energy audit will pinpoint what types of human behavior needs an upgrade and what type of appliance behavior needs an upgrade. When you’re able to upgrade your appliances and other systems to more efficient ways of operating, you can count on:
- The ability to make informed decisions about the maintenance you may need.
- Learning about new technology that’s providing better efficiency.
- Seeing the benefit of replacing older appliances with new models that use less energy.
To achieve those outcomes, you’ll need regular and ongoing energy audits. You cannot improve what you are not measuring.
Potential Energy-Efficient Upgrades
Where should you get started with your own rental properties? Here are some of the most common energy-efficient moves that we have seen owners and investors make.
- Efficient Landscaping
A well-designed landscape is great for your curb appeal. It adds beauty to your rental property and attracts good tenants. It can also boost your rental value. Here’s another benefit: the right landscaping can also reduce heating and cooling costs for your tenants. Plant a tree in the right spot, or a shrub, and you’ll find there’s more shade delivered to your property. It can also act as a shield against high winds. This will reduce energy bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the right trees in the right places can save up to a quarter of the energy a typical household uses.
- Solar Panels
Solar panels are a more dramatic upgrade than you may be willing to make, but they’re also becoming more common, even in rental properties. When you want to invest in significant energy savings and efficiency, consider installing solar panels. Technology around solar panels is always being improved, and they’re not as clumsy as they once were. They’re also less expensive. You might even find that you can take advantage of local energy incentives or tax deductions by installing solar panels.
- Seal Doors and Windows
This one seems pretty easy. It doesn’t require buying any new systems or appliances; you simply have to make sure that the insulation around your doors and windows is acceptable. Seal the doors and windows; it’s an easy upgrade. Air leaks are a big problem and will always lead to terrible energy efficiency. Whether it’s keeping the humidity out in the summer or the freezing cold out in the winter, make sure those doors and windows are closed off to the weather elements.
For most properties, this is as easy as caulking around door and window frames or adding some weather stripping.
- Better Insulation
Thinking beyond those doors and windows, make sure your rental property has the insulation t needs. You’ll want to insulate your walls, attics, and basements, especially as you prepare for the winter months. This will help you avoid frozen pipes at your rental property. Poorly insulated homes are also bad for HVAC systems.
- Upgrade Your Lighting
Energy-efficient lighting is not terribly expensive to install, and it will make a big difference at your rental property. Sometimes, all you have to do is change a light bulb to access more energy efficiency. In fact, switching all the light bulbs in your rental property to long-lasting LED bulbs could save you both time and money all year. Energy-efficient lighting is designed to stay lit for months or even years, significantly reducing the cost and frequency of replacement.
- Energy-Efficient Appliances
By installing energy-efficient dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, and stoves, you’re saving resources and money. These improved appliances will also look better in your rental home, and improve the quality of life for your tenant. Look for an Energy-Star rating before you buy. A thermostat that’s programmable is another great idea, and tenants will appreciate the function of keeping their homes warm or cool depending on the season. You can even install sensors that detect when people are home, thereby adjusting how warm or cool it is indoors.
There are dozens of other upgrades we can recommend, and we’d be happy to come up with a plan for energy efficiency based on the unique needs of your Golden, CO rental property. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at Laurel Property Services, Inc. In addition to providing property management in Golden, we also serve Wheatridge, Morrison, Lakewood, Arvada, and Genesee, CO.