Save the World With These 5 Apartment Energy Saving Tips

Earth Day is 4/22, and we’re celebrating by helping you save the world with five apartment energy saving tips. We’ll explain what rental property energy efficiency is, why it matters, and how you can help your tenants use less energy for the greater good.

What is Rental Property Energy Efficiency?

According to ENERGY STAR®, “energy efficiency means using less energy to get the same job done – and in the process, cutting energy bills and reducing pollution.” Using less energy is one of the most cost-effective ways to fight climate change, which is why millions of Americans choose to invest in energy-efficiency products.

Pursuing rental property energy efficiency offers a host of benefits, including saving your tenant money, tax deductions for you, and protecting the environment.

ENERGY STAR® reports that “energy efficiency reduces monthly energy bills and makes energy more affordable for businesses and families.” Though some energy-efficiency products require an upfront investment, putting these systems in place can help your tenant save money in the long run — not to mention shorten your vacancy cycles since energy-efficient rentals are drawing more attention now than ever before.

Energy Efficiency and Renters

Consider this: renters comprised more than 36% of U.S. households in 2019, and “nearly one-third of renter households have high energy burdens, meaning they spend more than 6% of their income on energy bills.”

American City & County’s 2021 Report

And the renters are often not to blame; rentals “consume 15% more energy on a per-square-foot basis and have 30% higher energy costs than other homes,” American City & County states.

The Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC), a nonprofit organization that seeks to learn the wants and needs of energy consumers in North America, stated that many renters were interested in increasing their energy efficiency in 2021, but most were reluctant to discuss the issue with their landlords. Per SECC’s “Understanding the Needs and Wants of Renters” report, 46% of tenants were afraid to bring up energy-efficiency upgrades, while 36% believed that their landlord simply wouldn’t allow the upgrades.

When survey respondents were asked about their home’s energy efficiency, 31% of renters stated their home is due for energy-efficient upgrades, and another 11% believed the energy efficiency of their home is “very poor.”

There is a clear need for landlords to take the initiative and invest in energy efficiency across their rental properties, especially when your tenant foots the energy bill.

According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the average American spends $2,000 annually on energy — and $200-$400 of that total is estimated to be wasted on drafts, air leaks, and outdated heating/cooling systems. By stepping up and addressing energy-efficiency concerns, you’ll:

  • Save money for either yourself or your tenant, depending on who’s responsible for the energy bill
  • Be able to market your unit as being energy efficient, which could reduce your vacancy cycle and bolster your bottom line over time
  • Help save the environment by reducing our dependency on fossil fuels
  • Potentially qualify for tax incentives centered on improving energy efficiency, putting more money back in your pocket

If you’re ready to cut your property’s electric bill and start reaping the benefits, we’re here to help!

A man adjusts a smart thermostat.

Five Tips to Promote Rental Property Energy Efficiency

There are a variety of ways to cut the electric bill and boost your rental property’s energy efficiency. We’ve highlighted five strategies below from the Bay Property Management Group:

  1. Seal the doors and windows with caulk. A drafty rental wastes energy, not to mention provides a less-than-optimal living environment for your tenant! In the winter, heat loss via doors and windows pushes renters to crank up the thermostat; in the summer, struggling to keep cool translates to increased energy usage. Get ahead of these issues by sealing the doors and windows with caulk, maintain good weatherstripping, and be sure to check these spots as part of your regular maintenance routine.
  2. Invest in efficient light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are less energy efficient than LEDs because the former produces more heat and shines in 360°. LEDs lose less energy to heat and shine directionally, which decreases their energy consumption overall. LEDs are more expensive than incandescent lights at first, but swapping out your energy-inefficient lights will help save money (and energy!) in the long run. Doesn’t replacing your old light bulbs with LEDs sound like a bright idea?
  3. Replace old appliances with new, energy-efficient models. No one looks forward to major appliances breaking, but we’d like to offer up a silver lining. The next time the fridge or water heater calls it quits, you get the opportunity to choose a new model that promotes energy efficiency! If you’re not sure where to start, look for ENERGY STAR® appliances. According to their site, “ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions.”
  4. Take care of your air conditioning unit. There are a variety of air conditioners on the market, from floor-mounted to window units. If your rental property relies on a window air conditioner to keep things cool, be sure that it fits snugly into the window without gaps. Gaps let warm air inside, which makes it tempting to crank the A/C up. Additionally, a window air conditioner should sit in a shaded area when possible, and you shouldn’t be afraid to install a window awning if needed. Preventing the A/C unit from getting direct sun means less energy waste, since it should only run when the rental itself heats up. For more warm weather-specific money saving tips, check out our blog on prepping your rental for the summer!
  5. Install new tech like programmable thermostats and smart power strips. Okay, maybe power strips aren’t new tech, but smart power strips can take your energy savings to the next level! For the uninitiated, a smart power strip is a series of sockets attached to an extension cord, and it’s “smart” because the power strip cuts off the power automatically when a plugged-in device is in standby mode. Similarly, investing in a smart thermostat can help your rentals stop sucking up so much energy by giving your renters more control over when it runs. Per ENERGY STAR®, “a smart thermostat is a Wi-Fi enabled device that automatically adjusts heating and cooling temperature settings in your home.” In other words, your tenants can program their smart thermostat to hold specific temperatures at designated intervals based on their schedule, which means less waste overall.

When you set your tenants up to save energy by following these tips, you’ll not only save money between tax deductions and a reduced vacancy cycle, but you’ll also help save the planet. Talk about a win-win-win!

To take your efforts a step further, consider using fully online rental management software like TurboTenant. No longer does being a DIY landlord mean you have to kill a forest of trees for sheaves of paper. Our digital platform offers everything you need to market your rental listings, screen tenants, create lease agreements, and collect rent online, so sign up today!

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