Energy efficiency is becoming a norm for businesses, individuals and property owners. Whether people do it to conserve the environment, follow government regulations or meet renters' interests, energy efficiency is crucial.
As a landlord or real estate investor, you may be looking for the best way to meet these needs. The following steps can do just that — while saving money.
1. Seal Windows and Doors
One of the most unsuspecting areas that causes energy waste and monetary loss is the cracks and gaps throughout the building. These spaces allow air conditioning and heat to escape freely. However, you can take simple steps to prevent this air loss from happening.
Weatherstripping, barriers, rubber stoppers and fillers are cheap tools you can find to stop the drafts. Caulk also works well — but you'll want to find a temporary version to make remodeling or replacing it easier in the future. These steps can save 5% to 30% of energy usage every year, which results in more savings.
Remember your upstairs, too. Heat rises, so you should insulate the attic or your higher floors. Without insulation like fiberglass, are more likely to heat and AC escape.
2. Maintain HVAC
The HVAC system requires maintenance. Some landlords expect their tenants to replace the air filters. However, renters often forget to buy the filters or feel they shouldn't have to. In any case, it's better to take maintenance tasks into your own hands.
When no one replaces the HVAC's air filter for a while, it becomes dirty. The system will have to work harder to function well, which means it will have a shorter lifespan. Ultimately, it costs more to maintain and consumes more energy. If you replace the filters every 90 days, you keep the system operating as it should.
For example, a clean filter helps a furnace work in a more energy-efficient manner. Since filters are cheap, you can save 5% to 15% on your bills, too.
3. Work on Landscaping
Do you have green spaces on your properties? Are you using them to your advantage? Green spaces allow you to take a natural approach to saving money and energy.
The important thing to keep in mind with landscaping is that you can use it to provide shade. Depending on your location, summers can be unbearable and require constant AC. However, trees can take the edge off. If you plant trees next to tenants' windows, you give them some shade, cooling their apartments. An added benefit is that, in the winter, the trees lose their leaves and will let sunlight in for heating.
You can use the rest of the green space for community-based needs like picnic tables or bike racks. This natural approach is still tech-based when you consider how much energy it will save.
4. Switch to Energy-Efficient Appliances
Appliances these days do a lot of work, which often takes a lot of energy. Products with the Energy Star label from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signify energy-efficient investments. You can buy these appliances as old ones eventually die — meaning you buy as you go, not all at once.
You can save about 30% on your energy bill once you switch to these appliances. They include anything from refrigerators to dishwashers to televisions. The list goes on and encompasses items like coffee makers and water heaters.
Smart appliances are also a wise investment. A smart thermostat lets you track energy usage, which highlights where you could be saving money. When you buy smart and choose Energy Star, you save on everything.
5. Use LEDs and CFLs
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs are becoming more common. It's no secret that incandescent bulbs have a short lifespan and lack energy-efficiency. LEDs and CFLs make up for what incandescents don't have — money savings and decreased energy usage.
Most incandescent light bulbs only have a 750-hour lifespan, which is measly compared to its competitors. CFLs can last 8,000 hours, and LEDs can last a whopping 25,000 hours. In the long run, these lightbulbs can save you electricity and cash. They channel their heat into increased light, whereas incandescents waste it.
Like appliances, you can make the switch gradually if you'd like. As the incandescent bulbs die, replacing them with LEDs or CFLs will bring about an energy-efficient and money-saving change.
Take Your Plan Step by Step
Change comes about in gradual steps. With each of these actions, you can create a more energy-efficient environment. You'll save money in the long run, and you'll notice that sustainable initiatives draw in tenants. People love environmental commitments, and these can play a big factor in where they choose to live. With these steps, you'll appeal to more prospects. If you want to stand out even more, you can always switch to solar power!
Holly Welles is a real estate writer and the editor of The Estate Update. She covers real estate investment, apartment living and personal finance for publications across the web.
*Contributions are solely guest opinions and don’t reflect the opinions of or are endorsed by WYL, our staff, clients or other interested parties.