three room boarding home all electric in my name

2 Replies

there is a house that went up for sale around the corner from where I work. I made an offer contingent on the appraisal and home inspection but the house is 15k.  The previous owner broke the house up into three rooms.  the only common areas are the bathroom and the kitchen.  The previous owner does not have separate utilities and if I move forward I would intend to keep it that way because of simplicity. 

The tenants have been there for over eight months in each room rents 100 a week/400 a month. From the $1200 gross monthly rent I will be responsible for electric water taxes and insurance. 

Water taxes and insurance will eat up about $200 and electric can eat up close to $500. I'm trying to think of ways that I can reduce my electric costs. This house is a 1000 square-foot row home in the middle of the block. It's not a freestanding single-family home subjected to the winds on all sides. There are only windows in the front and back of the property, not sides.

I calculated that in the summer months if each room has a 5000 BTU air conditioner that would cost about 50 bucks per month per room. In the winter months a 1500 W plug in spacier would cost about 80 bucks per room per month. That's running 24hrs a day. The other appliances are an electric hot water heater, electric oven, and refrigerator.  There is no dishwasher. there is no washer and dryer in the basement.  I do not want to separate all of the utilities. I do not want to have three electric meters and three water meters. These are rooms and not entire apartments. 

Any possible way I can reduce my electric cost would increase my bottom line. Thoughts?  Plastic wrap on the windows in the winter?  Black out blinds in the summer to prevent the sun to heat the room? Timers that can't be tampered with on cooling/heating units that turn on ever 2 hours? Turning down hot water heater in basement to to 115 degrees from 150 degrees?  I'm trying to be as energy efficient as possible!   

Joe - look into minisplit heat pumps.  They cost a bit up front, but are the most energy efficient heating over all the options, and they also provide air conditioning.  They essentially pump heat from the outside to the inside, and can pull heat even at low temperatures.  The heat pump can be reversed, hence giving the effect of AC as well.  Check out www.ecomfort.com.

Usually you put one in the main area of the house, which covers the largest square footage.  For the bedrooms, they should generally be fine, except for maybe the most cold months - depending on how cold it gets in that area, those rooms might need a sub-heater, but only for those couple of colder months.  You can get energy efficient sub-heaters at Lowes or Home Depot.

The up front costs of getting those installed will probably pay off in the long run and are better options than buying space heaters.  Search for reasonable contractors, though, as many want to buy the equipment and mark it up a lot, on top of their already high rates for installation, so definitely shop around for that.  I find the solo guys are the most reasonably priced.

Other suggestions:

Use LED lightbulbs everywhere possible.  Sometimes there are rebates on LED bulbs, you'll have to do some research.

Check for energy loss - insulation, windows, doors - quality and potential air leaks.  These are usually bigger factors to keeping heating / cooling costs down than getting a more energy efficient heating system.

You can get a blower test to see how air tight the place is, and you might be able to get an energy audit that does that as well as checks on everything I've mentioned, suggests upgrades, etc., and you can pick and choose what's worth spending money on.  I think they cost around $400, but in Seattle there's a program for energy efficiency that offsets that cost and also offers rebates for many of the suggested improvements, including adding minisplits, replacing windows and upgrading insulation.  Maybe there's something offered in PA, you could ask around (your electric company is a good start).

Hope this helps, good luck!

@Joe Boggin Some solid thinking on your part!

I just insulated the attic of my 8-unit complex. It still gets hot in the upstairs units - it just takes longer for it to get uncomfortably hot.

Minimizing heating and cooling typically takes several steps. No silver bullets.

Don't overlook shade structures instead of blackout blinds. Keeping the rays out is way better than dealing with the heat once it's inside.

I'm looking into a wall of vines so I can get sunlight in the winter and shade in the summer. That concept might work for you as well.

Remember passive solar homes? You might want to refresh your memory.

Best to you.

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