Advancements in residential construction technologies have created a strong demand for energy-efficient homes. As more homeowners and rental property owners upgrade their homes to enhance energy efficiency, more renters are looking for properties with these kinds of features. As a rental property owner, there is a lot that you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your rental homes and attract quality tenants. But the first step toward an energy-efficient rental home is to conduct a comprehensive energy audit of the property.
An energy audit is a close assessment of the energy needs and efficiency of a home or property. It is possible to do an energy audit yourself or to hire a professional to come in and do it for you. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, but the end result should be the same: a detailed list of items that, if fixed or upgraded, will significantly increase the energy efficiency of a home.
A detailed energy audit should include checking the entire property for air leaks. The more air that is leaking in or out, the harder your heating and cooling systems need to work to maintain a consistent interior temperature. Air can leak in many places, including around window frames, doors, and attic hatches. Air can also draft through fireplaces and around pipes and wires. Other common sources of air leaks are around electrical outlets, switch plates, and baseboards.
Other items in and around a rental property can be contributing to higher energy bills. Among these, old windows, aging appliances, and an outdated heating and cooling system can all use up far more energy than they should. For older rental homes, drafty or single-pane windows can make it difficult for tenants to maintain a comfortable temperature. Windows have come a long way in the last twenty years, making a window upgrade for older homes one important way to improve overall energy efficiency. Other culprits of high energy use are aging appliances and HVAC units. As appliances and HVAC units age, they can become a significant drain on a property’s efficiency. And new advances in appliances and HVAC systems mean that most newer models are designed with energy efficiency in mind.
Once you have a complete energy audit of your rental property in hand, it’s important to lay out a budget and timeline for renovation. Among the most important considerations are addressing the greatest losses of energy efficiency first, which items will offer the highest return for the cost, and how long you can wait before an upgrade becomes an emergency repair or replacement. Keep in mind that you may be able to qualify for certain tax or other incentives by upgrading your rental property, benefits that should be calculated into the overall cost of the improvements.
Regular energy audits are an important part of rental home maintenance. As technologies advance and renter demand changes, so too must the degree of energy efficiency a rental home has to offer. While it is possible to do an energy audit yourself, there is a risk that you might miss something important in the process. A professional will have the experience to check every last potential energy problem, which is why Real Property Management Pittsburgh offers this service to our property owners. With industry experts on call, we can give you the information you need to make your rental homes snug and secure – and appealing to quality tenants – for many years to come.
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