There are plenty of benefits to making your rental home more energy efficient. Not only is it the right move for the environment, but it also makes sense from a business perspective. An energy-efficient home keeps monthly energy costs down, which makes it easier for tenants to pay their rent — and will also encourage quality tenants to renew their lease (who doesn’t like to save money on energy bills?).
You can also use energy efficiency as a marketing tool; advertising things like ceiling fans that cool rooms with less electricity than A/C or programmable thermostats that ensure you don’t waste energy overcooling or heating a space can be a major draw for potential tenants.
Clearly, taking the steps necessary to make your investment property more energy efficient is a solid investment. But how, exactly, do you do that?
Here are five ways to improve your rental home’s energy efficiency (and attract quality tenants as a result):
Ceiling Fans in Every Room
Tenants want to make sure the property they’re moving into stays cool in the summer. But A/C isn’t exactly energy efficient.
And that’s where ceiling fans come in.
Ceiling fans are the best of both worlds; they keep air flowing through the property and significantly cool things down during the warm summer months — but they use a fraction of the electricity of a traditional A/C unit.
Installing ceiling fans is also an extremely cost-efficient way to boost your rental property’s energy efficiency; you can expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $90/hour for labor plus the cost of the ceiling fan, which you can easily find for under $100 — bringing the total project cost to just under $200.
Gas Water Heater
Another energy-efficient upgrade you’ll want to make to your rental property is installing a gas water heater. While gas water heaters might cost more upfront (a 40-50-gallon tank will cost you an average of $899), they’re typically cheaper in the long run than electric water heaters — and the savings in the end more than make up for the difference in initial upfront costs.
In order to maximize the energy efficiency of your gas water heater, make sure to replace it based on the manufacturer’s suggested lifespan (which could be anywhere between eight and 12 years) and to repair when necessary (completely repairing a gas water heater costs, on average, $483; minor repairs will be significantly less).
Nothing can drive up your energy bills quite like outdated windows. If you want to keep up the energy efficiency of your rental property — and keep energy costs low for tenants — you definitely need to install double-pane windows.
Double-pane windows were first invented in 1952, but didn’t start catching on as the “norm” until the mid-nineties. If your windows were installed prior to 1995, check to make sure they’re insulated — and, if not, you’ll want to install new windows across the board.
Installing insulated windows will cost you anywhere from $580 to $860 depending on the number of windows you need to replace, but the amount you’ll save in energy costs (and the value it will add to the home) more than makes up for the cost.
Next up for energy efficiency? Programmable thermostats.
Traditional thermostats have the potential to waste a lot of energy; if you’re not closely monitoring them, they can easily overheat or overcool the space — and drive up energy bills in the process.
With programmable thermostats, you can set the thermostat to turn off at a specific temperature — which can save hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars per year on wasted energy costs.
The average cost of a programmable thermostat without all the bells and whistles (which are totally unnecessary) is $250.
Window screens are good for more than just keeping the bugs out — this small change can make a HUGE difference in the energy efficiency of your rental property.
Screens are multifunctional; they keep heat out during the warm summer months and keep heat in during the freezing winter months, which can significantly lower the energy necessary to cool or heat your property. And at roughly $40 per window for the frame and screen (plus labor costs) it’s one of the cheapest ways to boost the energy efficiency of your rental property.
How to Prioritize Projects to Make Your Rental Property More Energy Efficient (Hint: Start Small)
Now, in a perfect world, you’d be able to make all these energy-efficient changes to your property tomorrow. But if that’s just not possible, it’s okay! Keep tabs on what needs to be updated and start with what you can afford — screens, ceiling fans, and a programmable thermostat are all a minimal investment that will give you a lot of energy efficiency bang for your buck. Once you have those in place, your rental property will see a dramatic change in energy efficiency — and as time goes on, you can tackle the more expensive projects, like installing insulated windows or a gas water heater.
Being environmentally conscious is becoming more and more important to people today — and that includes potential tenants. And now that you know how to improve your rental home’s energy efficiency, you have everything you need to appeal to those environmentally conscious tenants — and save a ton of money on energy bills in the process.