A Free Guide: Keep your Tenants Warm and Save on Utilities this Winter

Written on December 9, 2013 by , updated on April 21, 2015

weather-PDFAs a landlord, you have the responsibility of keeping your rental properties maintained, comfortable and efficient.  Doing so will also help save on utilities, regardless of who pays them.

Likewise, tenants have a responsibility to take care of the space they’re renting.

Landlords and tenants both benefit when they work together to improve a home or apartment’s heating efficiency.

I recently found this free guide that provides some extremely useful tips on improving the heating efficiency in your property and educating tenants on ways to be more heating-efficient.

I’ve summarized the guide below.

Landlord Duties – Improving a Home’s Heating Efficiency

To improve heating efficiency, you have to know where your home loses heat so you can fix the problem.

I believe that it’s the Landlord’s responsibility to upkeep various aspects of the house to improve its heating efficiency. These are some ways homes lose heat and thus opportunities for a landlord to improve the house:

1. Fill Exterior Air Leakages

candleThis is one of the most common sources of heat loss in a home. Drafty doors and windows can suck the heat right out of a house. To find air leaks in the home, take a lit candle and trace it along the edges of windows and doors. If the candle flickers, or the smoke wisps away, you’ve found a leak.

To seal air leaks in windows, apply caulk to cover the leak. For doors, install door panels to cover the bottom opening. If you don’t have air leaks, but the caulking around your windows is old, it’s a good idea to re-caulk anyway to prevent air leaks.

2. Replace Dirty Furnace Filter

air-filterIf the furnace doesn’t heat the house as well as it used to, it’s likely because the furnace filter needs changed. Dust and dander gets trapped in the filter, which makes the furnace work harder to heat an area, causing a rise in the heating bill.

Check the instructions on the furnace to see what kind of filter you’ll need to buy. Change it every one to 3-6 months, depending on how much it’s used.

3. Reduce Heating Throughout the Day

themostatIt’s normal to leave the heat on during the day, even while you’re at work. This means that your heat is running an extra 30(ish) hours during the week when you’re not even using it.

Remedy this problem by installing a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat allows you to control when your heating system kicks on, so you don’t have to run the heat all day when you’re not at home.

4. Install Sufficient Attic Insulation

attic-insulationIf the attic isn’t properly insulated, the heat in your home is going straight through the roof. Check to see if your attic is insulated enough by making sure the insulation is higher than the floor joists. If the insulation is below or level with the joists, you should add more.

It’s better to handle these tasks yourself instead of leaving them to your tenants. While they might be skilled at home maintenance, you don’t want to risk them damaging the property.

Encouraging tenants to be efficient – and safe – with heating

Educating tenants to practice energy-efficient methods of heating not only saves you money, but it helps them stay warmer during the cold months of winter. Talk to your tenants about preserving heat and heating safely with these methods:

5. Turn the Bathroom Fan Off

bathroom-fanIt’s easy to forget to turn the bathroom fan off right after a shower, but leaving it running can suck out all the heat from the room, and the rest of the house. Encourage renters not to leave the fan running longer than necessary.

6. Insulate Windows

3M Indoor Window Insulator Kit, 5-WindowEven if windows are well-caulked, they can still radiate cold temperatures. Insulating curtains ensure that cold air doesn’t enter the home, and warm air doesn’t escape.

Attaching an inexpensive window insulation kit over windows will provide more insulation.

7. Use Space Heaters with Caution

space-heaterIf tenants want to add supplemental heating to the home, talk to them about using safe methods of heating. While space heaters do provide extra warmth to a room, they can be extremely unsafe.

Between 2006 and 2010, space heaters were to blame for 32 percent of home fires!

Likewise, fireplaces can be unsafe if used improperly. Have the fireplace and chimney cleaned once a year to avoid chimney fires. Open fireplace doors while a fire is going — this allows the fire to ventilate so it won’t combust.

For more tips on safe and smart home heating, check out Electric Fireplaces Direct’s new free guide, “The Cure for the Common Cold Room.”

Working Together for a Warmer Home

Your renters want a warm living space as much as you want a lower utility bill and a more efficient home.

Being honest with them about savings — both money and heat-wise — will encourage them to participate in the effort.

Be helpful, not pushy, when advising them on making better heating decisions during the cold winter months. They’ll likely be more than willing to listen if you’ve got their best interests in mind.

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