When Going “Green” Counts: 7 Ways to Save Money on Your Rentals Through Water Conservation

by | BiggerPockets.com

Many landlords pay the water bills for their tenants, which means most landlords really like it when their tenants don’t use a lot of water.

That puts them in the rare position of being right in line with the green crowd who wants to save the Earth. The problem, naturally, is getting them to actually do anything about it. Well, as it happens, there are a few things that you can do to a property between tenants — or even while a tenant is renting.

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7 Ways to Save Money on Your Rentals Through Water Conservation

The following hands-off water-saving tricks can completely cut costs and benefit you as a landlord. Check them out:

1. Get New Aerators in All the Sinks

Sinks without aerators — or with old, worn-down aerators — can burn through 2.2 gallons of water if left on for an entire minute. You can get bathroom sink aerators that allow as little as 0.5 gallons per minute, but don’t restrict the kitchen sink to less than 1 gallon per minute, or you’ll be severely crimping the tenants’ ability to do the dishes.

Related: 4 Tips on How To Value Green Property Improvements

2. Buy Efficient Toilets and/or Fill Toilet Tanks

You can do this one of two ways — either you can invest in efficient toilets, which can cost hundreds of dollars, or you can fill a 2-liter bottle with gravel and drop it in the tank of an existing toilet, which costs about a buck. The downside to the cheap route is that by restricting water flow on a toilet that’s not made for reduced flow, you can cause more clogs.

3. Switch the Landscaping Over to Low-Moisture Plants

Again, this can take a little investment, but this time it’s a little less money but a little more time and labor. Getting rid of plants that require a lot of water and replacing them with plants that don’t will save you quite a bit of money in the long run.

4. Make Sure Nothing Leaks

A sink or bathtub that leaks at a measly 1 drip every 2 seconds is burning through 22 gallons of water every week. Most of these repairs are simple enough that with a few hand tools and a pile of Teflon tape, you can do them yourself — and there’s no reason not to. If you’re not already inspecting the property at least seasonally, you should do so if for no other reason than to check for new leaks.

5. Install Low Flow Showerheads

You can’t stop someone from filling the tub as much as they want to, but you can sure cut down on the amount of water they’ll use in their showers. A low-flow showerhead can cut shower consumption by as much as 40% without sacrificing water pressure. Best of all, these devices tend to be easy to install in 15 minutes or less and inexpensive, making them perfect for your needs.

6. Install a Timer for Landscape Watering

Rather than let the tenant decide when and for how long to spray water at your plants, install a permanent sprinkler (nothing fancy, just a normal above-ground sprinkler spiked in place) and put it on a timer.

Set the timer for twilight — dawn or dusk, doesn’t matter — as that’s when evaporation is lowest and thus you need the least water to feed your plants.

Related: The ABC’s to Green up any Investment Property

7. Install a Front-Loading Washing Machine

Front-loading washers are unusual beasts, it’s true, and they can be pricey if you don’t get them on discount — but they do use about 60% as much water as a top-loading dryer, and if you’re replacing it with an Energy Star front-loader, you’ll be doing your tenant a favor on their electric bill at the same time.

Make these changes and watch your water bill — it should go down by a significant chunk if you’ve invoked all of them. Your tenant may never even notice, and you’ll appreciate the savings every single month.

Do you know of other ways you can help the environment and saving money as a landlord?

Be sure to leave your comments below!

About Author

Drew Sygit

While in the mortgage business, Drew rose to a VP position at the first broker he worked for and then started his own company. In the pursuit of excellence, he obtained several mortgage designations and joined mortgage & several affiliate association Boards. He also did WebX presentations and public speaking. It was during this time he started personally investing in single-family rentals, leading him to also start Royal Rose Property Management with two partners. He also joined the Board of a local real estate investors association, eventually becoming its President. The real estate crash led to an offer from the banking industry to manage a Michigan bank’s failed bank assets they acquired from the FDIC. The bank acquired four failed banks from the FDIC, increasing from $100M in assets to over $2B while he was there. After that, he took over as President of Royal Rose Property Management. Today, he speaks at national property management conventions and does WebX presentations.


  1. I joins the water save program with our city. Doing that they installed a meter for free so I only pay for the water used which is cheaper than our normal charges in Chicago. Then I installed an electric water tank. The tenants pay their own electric bill which causes them to only use what’s necessary.

  2. I really like the 2L bottle idea – very ingenious.

    You sure that front-load washers use more water than top-load “dryer”? Haha. Just teasing but really… I didn’t realize the front-load washers were so much more efficient than top-load.

    Good read overall. =)

  3. Rain Barrels often help.

    Install rain barrels around the property, with weep lines, it will water the landscaping,
    and reduce the amount of city water being used.
    Many cities will even provide a grant to subsidize these.

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