The whole point of offering your home as a vacation rental is to earn extra income. By following a few simple steps, you can maximize that extra income by reducing waste around the home.
The main bills that everyone pays are heating in winter and air conditioning in summer. Other monthly bills include cable or satellite TV, internet service, and so on. And of course, every year property taxes are due. (There’s little you can do to reduce that bill!)
In order to save money in the long run, you have to spend money on improvements in the short run.
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7 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Vacation Home’s Monthly Bills
Heating in Winter
Add Energy Efficient Windows
Much of the heat in your home is lost through windows and the ceiling, which can increase your heating costs dramatically.
Consider investing in energy efficient windows that will help conserve heat in winter and dissipate it in summer. Although replacing windows can be expensive, they are also an excellent return on your investment and could increase the value of your property should you decide to sell.
Here’s the terminology you’ll need to know when shopping for new windows:
- Low E — low emissivity. The glass in the window (the “glazing”) is coated with a metallic substance that reflects the heat of the sun rather than absorbing it.
- Gas fill. A gas such as krypton or argon is pumped between the two or three panes of glass. This gas acts as an insulator and also prevents heat from transferring from the exterior to the interior of a room. However, gas filled windows are typically not recommended for homes in high-altitude locations, as the gas has a tendency to leak out.
- Frame materials. Fiberglass is typically the best framing material for windows, but it is also the most expensive material. Vinyl window frames provide good insulation, for example, but they also will expand and contract as the temperature changes, which can allow air to leak out. Wooden frames can be affected by moisture.
Take a good look at your exterior doors. Do they fit properly in their frames? If not, consider adding insulating tape to the top or bottom of the frame (depending on where the air gaps are).
Do your front and rear doors have windows in them? Make sure those windows are energy efficient. In addition, doors made from wood are not as good an insulator as those with a polyurethane foam core.
Check Your Heating System
It’s a good idea to have your heating system checked each year as the winter season begins.
Cooling in Summer
Having energy efficient windows installed will go a long way toward helping to keep your home cool in summer as well. By the same token, have your air conditioning checked when summer arrives.
Depending on where your vacation home is located, you might not have central air condition. You might have individual air conditioners in certain rooms, or you may make do with fans.
Fans are typically less expensive to run than air conditioners. The question is will your renters expect you to have air conditioning?
It’s always a good idea to have plenty of lamps in the bedrooms and living room. Bear in mind that some light bulbs generate more heat than light, so make sure you purchase energy efficient lightbulbs as well.
Your water bill is perhaps quarterly rather than monthly, but it’s a good idea to save money on your water bill as well.
Automate Your Water Sprinkling System
An automated water sprinkling system can help ensure that your lawn is watered to the appropriate extent. Using too little water is bad, but using too much water wastes money and can also harm your lawn.
You can also invest in censors that will shut off the water if they find that the ground is too moist or if it raining. (There’s no need to water your lawn if the rain is doing it for you!)
Check your sprinkling system every month or so, or have your caretaker/handyman do so if you are not around. If there is a leak in the system, it can cost you a lot of money before you realize what is happening!
Other Ways to Maximize Efficient Energy Usage
Purchasing new windows can be expensive. There are other, less expensive ways to reduce your monthly bills. For example, consider planting trees along the East side of your house. The trees, once they grow to a good height, will naturally block the sun from entering your home.
Rather than purchasing windows with Low E, you can actually purchase Low E film which you can apply to your windows yourself.
Depending on where you live, you may wish to consider the color of your house. If you live in a warm location, a light colored home will reflect sunlight rather than absorb it and help reduce the cost of your air conditioning. On the other hand, if you live in a winter wonderland, a dark colored home will absorb the heat of the sun and can save on your heating bill.
Reduce Cable/Satellite TV Bills
Always bear in mind that you are competing with hotels and motels, which typically offer their guests large screen TVs and cable or satellite channels.
Do some comparison shopping to find the best provider in your location.
If your internet service wifi is part of the package with you TV service, so much the better.
Be Prepared for Property Taxes/Income Taxes
Property taxes are not technically a monthly bill, but they can be expensive and quite a shock if you are not expecting the amount. Before offering your home as a vacation rental, make sure you discuss all the tax ramifications with your tax advisor and that you put aside enough money in increments each month to pay your taxes when they are due.
You need to be prepared to pay taxes on your rental income as well, and fees to your local government for the necessary licenses. Again, discuss all this thoroughly with your tax advisor before you embark on this venture.
Vacation homeowners: Is there anything you’d add to this list?
Let me know with a comment!