With cold weather here to stay for a while your tenants might be noticing a spike in their heating or electric bill. In fact the inspiration behind this post was an early morning text from my roommate, saying we needed to figure out a way to use less gas in order to bump our heating bill down.
This conversation spurred a little research into ways we could manage our heating behavior more efficiently – better on our wallets and better for the environment too! While looking up ideas, I started to think about how awesome it would be if I got a friendly reminder from my landlord about tips for staying warm and saving money this winter.
With Millennials making up a large share of the rental housing market, and many of them living on their own for the first time, I know I am not alone in my novice attitude towards heating costs and efficiency.
In order to help you stand out to your renters and make a great impression as a landlord or manager who cares about your tenants, here are some tips to share with your tenants during the cold weather season.
Stay Warm and Save Money with these Efficient Heating Tips for Cold Weather
Turn down the temp – The California Energy Commission recommends setting your thermostat to 68 degrees, noting that for every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you’ll save up 5 percent on heating costs. For sleep hours or when leaving the home, setting the thermostat down to 55 degrees or off for an extended time, saving 5-20 percent of your heating costs.
Change your filters – Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy use. Changing the air filters at least every three months can save your renters 4 to 6 percent on heating costs. If your tenants have a pet, changing filters every month is recommended. This tip will help not only help your tenants save money, but it will prolong the life of your furnace too.
Get Wintertime Curtains – According to AARP, insulated curtains or window quilts, can reduce an estimated 25 percent of an older home’s heating costs associated with window heat loss. Even regular curtains made from a heavy fabric can reduce heating costs; Energy.gov recommends hanging curtains as close to windows as possible and letting them fall to floor for maximum effectiveness.
Keep Your Chimney Closed – For homes with a fireplace, remind your tenants to keep the damper closed when not in use. Another solution to keep the cold air out and the warm air from escaping up the chimney when a fireplace is not in use, is a chimney ballon. These inflatable devices claim to decrease heating loss more than just closing the damper and sell at HomeDepot for $56.99.
Use your fan – While ceiling fans are excellent tools for staying cool in the summer, they can be adjusted to help your tenants keep warm in the winter. Many fan models have a switch that allows blades to spin clockwise, which will push warm air that rose to the ceiling back down into the room.
Heated Mattress Pad or Electric Blanket – If you allow tenants to use electric blankets or mattress pads, remind them of this simple trick for staying warm at night. Instead of heating an entire house during the late night hours, a renter who keeps the thermostat programmed at 55 degrees or lower, can stay warm with an electric blanket or mattress. According to Go Green In Your Home, a 90watt electric blanket used for 8 hours a day will cost your renters only $2.20/month.
And just for fun- try eating spicy foods! SELF Magazine claims that eating spicy foods in the winter can help you stay warm since spicy foods like chili peppers and seasonings made from chili peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which makes them spicy and, when eaten, increases our body temperature, creating a warming effect.
Tips for Owners
To truly go above and beyond for your tenants to keep them warm this season and help lower their heating bills, consider these updates to improve the insulation of your property from the California Energy Commission.
Seal up Cracks – Install weather-stripping or caulk leaky doors and windows which can save up to 10 percent on energy costs.
Install a programmable thermostat – If your property has a heat pump, select a model designed for heat pumps. Programmable thermostats help regulate the interior temperature for your tenants. Set-back thermostats can save up to 15 percent on energy costs.
Increase ceiling insulation – If your ceiling is insulated or scantily insulated, consider increasing your insulation to up to R-38 to reduce heating costs by 5-25 percent.
Seal ducts – Leaking ductwork accounts for more than 25 top 30 percent of heating costs in an average California home. Consider hiring a contractor to test the tightness of your ducts and repair leaks and restrictions in your duct.
High-efficiency windows – If you are planning to replace your windows, choosing ENERGY STAR windows can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 15 percent.
Check Your Furnace – Servicing your property’s furnace can help it run more efficiently for your tenants and will prolong the life of the appliance.
A printed flyer or email notification with these tips will be valuable advice for your tenants. You can set reminders for yourself in your calendar and in your property management software to send out cold weather reminders every year.
Have any other tips for how to save money on heating costs you have shared with your renters or use in your home? Let us know in the comments!