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Posted about 4 years ago

5 Ways to Make Your Rental Properties More Environmentally Friendly

Until recently, renting was more of a necessity than a choice for young professionals in need of housing. With residents' incomes and a shifting job market in play, property owners invested minimal resources into rental units in an effort to keep them affordable.

Today's younger generations, however, view renting differently. Part of that shift stems from the memories these generations have of the 2000 and 2008 stock market crashes — particularly how those events cost their families and neighbors wealth and equity. Perhaps the greatest reason for this shift in mindset, though, is the affordability, flexibility, and added features provided by renting. Instead of a short-term step on the way to homeownership, many people see rental housing as a better lifestyle fit.

That said, today's renters increasingly are interested in eco-friendly units and features — both to save money and the environment. Now that the median age of occupied rentals is about 42 years, it's more important than ever for owners to offer updated features as a way to make their rentals more attractive, safe, and sustainable.

How to Make Your Rental Eco-Friendly

Take a minute to envision a 30-year-old property located in a good school district. Acquiring and maintaining that space may require a significant financial investment. Something as simple as a smart thermostat, however, can ease the financial burden.

With a smart thermostat, renters could save about 20% on their heating and cooling bills, which would make that aging home the perfect property for a young family. What's more, research suggests that environmentally friendly landlords entice more tenants than those who aren't.

Installing smart home devices will not only make your properties more environmentally friendly, but it will also provide value to you and your tenants in unexpected ways — especially in older units. Smart locks, for instance, allow property owners to show units without actually being present, which can help bring in more potential residents.

Increasing the sustainability of your properties with smart home devices is an obvious way to up their value. In fact, research from Schlage and Wakefield found that 86% of Millennials will pay more for smart apartments.

If you want to go green and see an influx of potential tenants, follow these five tips:

1. Replace air filters. The debris that fills HVAC filters can block airflow and cause systems to overwork. As a result, your energy use — along with your power bill — will increase.

To keep your systems operating efficiently, regularly replace your air filters. Consider using a subscription filter service like Second Nature, which sends filters on a set schedule so you never forget to replace them.

2. Install connected thermostats. Thirty-three million households own at least one connected device, according to Parks Associates. It's almost a given that a property will have some sort of smart technology, and owners who provide this amenity will see less turnover than those who don't.

A smart thermostat, for example, is a more efficient way to control the temperature in your properties because it allows you to set a schedule for heating and cooling. It also allows you to monitor humidity levels regardless of whether the unit is occupied or vacant. This lowers your energy costs — plus you can get a rebate simply for owning one.

3. Switch to smart lightbulbs. Simply changing your existing lightbulbs to smart lightbulbs can save you more than $11 dollars annually per bulb. Connected light switches and plug-ins are a great way to save money and energy because they can automatically turn lights on at sunset and off by sunrise. Even better, they automatically adjust throughout the year to optimize your energy savings.

4. Protect against leaks. Water leaks aren't on a lot of people's minds, but the repercussions can be disastrous for both the property and the environment. The average leak can waste more than 10,000 gallons of water annually.

To prevent major leaks in your properties, install water flow sensors that can detect small leaks and abnormal consumption. You can also invest in energy-efficient washers, showerheads, faucets, and tankless water heaters to make your properties as earth-friendly as possible.

5. Harness solar energy. Installing solar panels on your properties may seem like a huge undertaking, but the cost and time spent will be worth the energy savings. The IRS offers a residential renewable energy tax credit, which provides credits of 26% of purchase and installation costs in 2020. As an added bonus, you may be able to sell your utility company any surplus energy your panels create.

Installing smart home technology is a great way to decrease the amount of energy used in your properties, which is better for the environment as well as your tenants' pocketbooks. Although installations may take up extra time and money, they will be well worth it once you, your tenants, and the environment begin to experience the benefits.