By Emily Long
A harsh winter can take a hefty toll on your rental property. Winterizing your building now could save you thousands of dollars in costly repairs, heating bills, and tenant liabilities. Many winterizing upgrades pay for themselves in energy savings, making them a great investment over the long term. Get your property ready before the first big storm to avoid a potential disaster, and keep your tenants comfortable all winter long.
1. Check Your Heating System
Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system works overtime during the winter. Late fall is the best time to take care of any necessary maintenance. Check your system’s filters to make sure your airflow isn’t restricted, and look into upgrading to a permanent electrostatic filter to save money over the long term. If allergies are a concern, a HEPA filter is the best choice for limiting exposure to dust and mold.
Finally, consider replacing your furnace or boiler system if it’s significantly out of date. A high-efficiency unit could save you enough on your heating bill to cover most of the replacement cost over a few years.
2. Seal Up Drafts and Air Leaks
The US Department of Energy estimates that drafts and air leaks significantly add to your energy costs. With just a few simple fixes, you can increase your property’s energy efficiency by up to 30%.
Check windows, doors, and the joints between your floor, walls, and ceilings for any leaks. Use spray foam insulation, caulk, and weather stripping to permanently seal any leaks, and replace door jambs and storm windows. For a quick fix, use weather sealing tape to secure window seams. Be sure to educate your tenants about the importance of keeping windows and doors fully closed during the winter—a single open window can undo your effort.
3. Monitor Your Thermostats
Programmable thermostats are a big upgrade for your rental property. Making sure your property’s heat is turned down when your tenants leave for the day can save a significant amount of money. If your tenants go on vacation, be sure that they leave the heat on while they’re gone. A burst pipe costs $15,000 in repairs on average.
Upgrading to a “smart” Wi-Fi connected thermostat is a great investment as they can be monitored remotely using your smartphone, letting you see and track your building’s heat throughout the year. Many utility companies offer discounts on these types of thermostats since they greatly improve energy efficiency.
4. Replace Old Insulation
Boosting your rental property’s insulation can help you save on heating costs while also reducing the likelihood of ice-related issues on your roof. ENERGY STAR estimates that adding insulation to attics, floors, and crawl spaces can decrease heating and cooling costs by 15% on average. Adding insulation can often be done without a professional, depending on the style of the attic or crawlspace on your rental property.
State and federal incentives can reduce the cost of insulation upgrades significantly. You can check your area’s available incentives through the Department of Energy. Your local utility will also know of any programs in place that help cut the cost of insulation upgrades.
5. Install Storm Windows and Doors
Forgetting to lower storm windows when cold weather hits is a common mistake for rental property owners, and it could end up costing you a small fortune in wasted energy. The time it takes to lower and secure storm windows is negligible compared to the insulation it provides against drafts and air leaks.
Storm doors are another upgrade for any property. However, only consider installing storm doors if your doors are older but not in poor condition. If your door is newer and insulated, the actual savings are unlikely to offset the costs.
6. Upgrade Your Security
As daylight hours grow shorter and burglars have more darkness to sneak around in, consider your rental property’s risk for a break-in. Home security cameras that include a night vision feature are ideal for the winter months, since they can capture critical identifying information during a pitch-black evening. The best night vision cameras have high-definition recording options and often include features like cloud storage for ease of use.
If your rental property is missing a home security system, upgrading to a monitoring service can help protect your tenants from theft, and protect you from liability in the event of a robbery. Many home security systems integrate with home automation systems, which can allow you to control many aspects of your property’s energy use and security when it’s unoccupied. Your tenants may be happy to pay off the cost of increased security as a part of their rent bill.
Use these steps before winter hits to make sure your rental properties don’t waste your money or leave your tenants in the cold.
Author Bio: Emily Long is a freelance writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She writes about tech, home automation, and safety. When she’s not living out of a suitcase, you can find her practicing yoga, running Utah’s best trails, or attempting to perfect her coffee brewing skills.
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