April 19, 2018

Spring is here, and that means Earth Day is fast approaching. On April 22, folks celebrate the Earth and discuss sustainable practices that can preserve its resources. From saving on energy consumption to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and cutting back on water consumption, Earth Day both fosters eco-friendliness and provides specific tips on how to enact it.

Landlords are in a great position to make their units eco-friendlier. Many methods of reducing energy and water consumption now exist that weren’t around when Earth Day was first introduced in the 1970s. They can save the environment and save you money at the same time, as conserving energy and water reduces expenses.

Plus, millennials and Generation Z are actively in favor of green and sustainable practices and make choices based on these factors. Instituting these nine tips will give you an optimal way to attract tenants of the younger generations.

1. Do an Energy Audit

Like many things, it’s easier to implement eco-friendliness if you have data before starting the process. Many local utilities will do an energy audit for a reasonably low price — typically under $400. They will come out and examine your home for ways in which you may be expending more energy than you need to. Then, they’ll make recommendations on how to reduce your energy consumption.

Because roughly 30 percent of energy use from all kinds of fuels is used to generate electricity, any reduction of electric or other energy power they suggest will make your units more green.

2. Insulate Your Units

If your home isn’t adequately insulated, improving that aspect of the unit could be an Energy Audit suggestion. Insulation will keep warm air in during the winter and cool air in during the summer, reducing energy draw.

While many people think of insulating attics and walls, it doesn’t end there. Weather-stripping drafty windows and patio doors is also a form of insulation, as is making sure your windows fit the frames and buying new windows if they don’t.

3. Invest in Energy Star™ Appliances

Energy Star™ appliances are certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to save energy by up to 30 percent. We’re not saying you have to run out and buy Energy Star appliances immediately. But sooner or later, all these devices need to be replaced. When they do, think Energy Star. Dishwasher, refrigerator, stove, light bulbs and windows themselves — you can find the Energy Star label on tons of appliances.

4. Think Solar

Solar power saves energy because it uses a clean, renewable resource — the sun — to generate heat and light rather than using a fossil fuel like oil, coal or natural gas. There are two ways to use solar power — one is to buy solar panels for your roof. Like appliances, roofs need to be replaced eventually. Check with a contractor to see if the position of your home could allow you to benefit from a solar roof.

The second method of solar power, though, is simply to use the sun to your advantage in heating and lighting your units. Make windows larger, especially if you get southern exposure. Install a skylight over your kitchen. Make a spare room a solarium, with floor-to-ceiling windows.

5. Install Low Flow Plumbing Appliances

Water is in increasingly short supply in many areas of the world, including the U.S.

Low-flow appliances in plumbing can reduce water consumption — faucet caps, shower heads, and toilets can all be low-flow. The more of these water-saving tools you install, the less water your units will use.

6. Landscape With Native Plants

Landscaping is a smart idea since plants make for healthy air and an environmentally pleasant area. But be careful to include the water requirement of plants in your calculations. Landscaping with native plants can save 50 to 70 percent on water usage. Why? Because native plants have evolved to survive with the natural amount of rainfall in the area.

7. Choose Paint Wisely

Paint that uses volatile organic compounds (VOCs) releases those compounds into the air and isn’t healthy. Choose paint with low or no VOC when it comes time to repaint, both inside and out.

8. Pick Sustainable Flooring

Eco-friendliness includes using sustainable materials so that natural resources like wood aren’t stripped off the Earth and not replaced. When your units need new flooring, there are many environmentally friendly sustainable choices to choose from. Bamboo, for example, grows rapidly and can, therefore, be harvested and regrown for maximum sustainability. Cork is also sustainable, as is repurposed wood and cement.

9. Encourage Bicycles and Walking

Car transportation uses a lot of fossil fuels, both oil and gasoline. These are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and thus to climate change. While you obviously can't dictate your tenants' use of vehicles, you can make your units bicycle and walking friendly.

Place bike racks in front of the building or a basement, if available. Landscape with walking paths if appropriate. If not, draw up a map showing area hiking paths and how to walk to nearby attractions, including stores and parks.

Earth Day is a time to celebrate the environment and learn new ways to protect it. These methods can save energy and water, making your practices more eco-friendly and cost-efficient at the same time. Millennials and Generation Z tenants tend to make decisions based on green practices and sustainability, so be sure to advertise these environmentally friendly moves.

Author Bio: This article was written exclusively for Rentometer by Megan WildMegan Wild is a real estate and home improvement blogger who writes about easy ways that you can fix up rentals or your home. When she’s not sanding her next project, she’s found walking her dog, Tucker.

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