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February 24, 2020

When you're in charge of a rental property or community, much of what you do every day focuses on making your tenants happy. Impressing current tenants retains long-term renters and pull in potential new occupants, thanks to positive online reviews.

Sometimes it's easy to impress your renters with a community upgrade or quick response. Other times, people will get disgruntled about the necessities, like paying their utility bills. The cost of a utility bill depends on how a tenant uses their living space, but there are also a few things landlords can do to make that bill more affordable. 

Read on to learn how investors can reduce their tenants' utility expenses with a few easy tips. By rethinking how you manage your property and trying something new, you could lower the bills and make life more affordable for your residents.

1. Replace HVAC Filters

Most properties replace HVAC filters in rental units because it's a quick responsibility for maintenance teams. It's one less thing for tenants to worry about, but it could unknowingly be the reason why their utility bills are spiking. 

If your team isn't replacing HVAC filters at least every two months, they'll get clogged up. That makes it harder for the HVAC unit to push fresh air through the home every time the fan kicks on, forcing the machine to work longer. Replace HVAC filters routinely so heating and air conditioning costs stay as low as possible.

2. Upgrade Unit Thermostats

Standard thermostats from years past have the sliding lever that makes residents guess at what temperature they're setting for their home. They aren't very accurate, which is why property managers can always upgrade unit thermostats.

Programmable thermostats save people money every year because you can set them to specific temperatures. Modern models even have settings for different times of the day, meaning tenants won't have to worry about continually changing the configuration. They won't have to stress over turning off the fan at night or in the morning if the thermostat knows how to balance the atmosphere against exterior temperatures.

3. Seal Any Cracks

As units age, the sealant around windows peels away. It isn't always obvious, but any present cracks let air leak inside the home. Air infiltration shifts the interior temperature and affects the utility bill, although there's an easy fix for the problem.

Instruct your maintenance teams to check each unit and test around the edges of windows for leaks. Apply new sealant in problem areas or around entire windows to give the unit a longer lifespan and reduce utility expenses.

4. Switch to LED Bulbs

Sometimes a renter may replace light bulbs on their own, but it's the property manager's responsibility to install new bulbs in fixtures before a new tenant moves in. They'll last a few months and could impact the utility bill, especially if you switch to LED bulbs.

LEDs require less electricity and produce less heat than traditional bulbs. Before you start your replacement project, use an energy savings calculator to see what your tenants will save when you switch to LEDs. 

5. Inspect Property Insulation

It's always smart to hire a property inspector for a yearly check of your rental units. The next time they stop by, mention your concern about saving tenants money on their utility bills. The inspector can check the insulation in each rental space to see if it's withstood the test of time. They'll recommend adding more to units that would benefit from the additional padding. 

6. Invest in New Appliances

Many rental properties offer units with appliances more than a decade old. Others have available leases where renters pay extra for a new appliance package. Your residents will love any efforts you make to invest in new appliances registered as energy-saving products. 

Smart fridges and ovens will drastically cut down utility bills and last a long time, so renters now and in the future will benefit from the upgrade.

7. Install Double-Pane Windows

If you want to go the extra mile to make your property the best place to live, install double-pane windows in all of your units. They act as a reinforced barrier and can reduce utility bills by 50%, depending on the window quality. Renters will also enjoy how they buffer outdoor noises because they're thicker than traditional windows.

Inspect Your Property

Landlords should let their tenants know they intend to inspect the property to make efficiency upgrades. Check the insulation, replace traditional bulbs and upgrade appliances, so renters enjoy where they live and save more money.

Holly Welles covers real estate topics for the up-and-coming renter or homeowner. She runs her own blog, The Estate Update, and can also be found dishing up advice over on Twitter @HollyAWelles.