Sustainability and energy efficiency have become important considerations for tenants when selecting a rental property. With a growing focus on reducing, one's carbon footprint, many tenants, especially demographics like millennials, want to live in homes that allow them to live more sustainably.
As a landlord, investing in energy efficient features and technologies can help attract desirable tenants, reduce operating costs, and increase your property's value. Focusing on efficiency upgrades can be a win-win — tenants get to live in greener homes that lower utility bills, while landlords reduce expenses and maintenance costs down the line. Read on to learn more about how to tap into tenant demand for sustainability and create rental properties fit for the future.
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Why sustainable features are in demand
In addition to open-plan layouts, gardens and a prime location, tenants are seeking out sustainable features thanks to a growing environmental consciousness, especially among younger demographics like millennials and Gen Z. Tenants want to reduce their carbon footprint and are actively seeking out homes that allow them to live more sustainably through energy and water savings.
Beyond environmental motivations, energy efficient upgrades help reduce utility bills, saving tenants money each month. With rising energy costs, renters find properties that lower their utility expenses highly attractive.
Renters often feel they are contributing through their housing choice, and a greener home offers many advantages. Additionally, government tax incentives and rebates for efficiency upgrades motivate landlords to seek out sustainable properties to maximise savings.
Benefits for landlords
Upgrading rental properties for greater energy efficiency requires some investment upfront, but it pays dividends for landlords in the long run in several key ways. First, reduced operating costs are a major benefit, as energy efficient improvements directly lower monthly electricity, gas, and water bills. Smart building upgrades like insulation, LED lights and efficient appliances can cut utility costs by 20% or more, saving landlords and tenants money each month.
Energy efficient, sustainable homes also often command higher rents and sale prices. Environmentally conscious tenants are frequently willing to pay more in rent to live in a property that allows them to reduce their carbon footprint. Features like solar panels also boost a property's value. Another advantage is attracting higher quality tenants in a competitive rental market. Tenants increasingly seek out energy efficient, green rentals in their housing search.
Landlords also benefit from reduced maintenance requirements and costs over the long run. Newer systems and appliances break down less frequently, decreasing maintenance calls, while smart devices also provide alerts for issues.
Ways for landlords to create energy efficient rentals
Conduct an energy audit
One of the first steps landlords should take to increase the energy efficiency of their rental properties is to conduct a thorough energy audit. This allows you to identify areas where efficiency can be improved. When auditing, look closely at insulation levels in lofts, exterior and basement walls, and floors. Insufficient insulation leads to heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer.
Likewise, an audit gives landlords an opportunity to assess windows for air leaks, rot, and inefficiency, evaluate the age and condition of heating systems, and look for air gaps and leakage spots in the building itself. Conducting a thorough energy audit and identifying hidden areas for improvement will provide a blueprint for efficiency upgrades to reduce energy waste.
Consider renewable energy options
In addition to efficiency upgrades, landlords may want to explore integrating renewable energy sources into their rental properties. Two popular options to consider are solar PV panels and heat pump systems.
Installing solar panels is a great way for landlords to reduce electricity costs. The panels generate clean energy from sunlight during the day, directly lowering the amount of grid electricity needed and reducing utility bills. Tenants will appreciate these lower electricity expenses each month, while visible solar panels also show tenants that the landlord is serious about using green technology and promoting sustainability.
Heat pumps are another renewable option worth considering. Available as air or ground source systems, they work by efficiently transferring heat between indoor and outdoor air to provide heating and cooling. Landlords who incorporate renewable energy sources like solar panels and heat pumps take a major step towards improving the sustainability of their properties. Tenants seeking to reduce their environmental impact will be attracted to these green features.
One of the most impactful steps for increasing energy efficiency is improving insulation. Insulation acts as a barrier to heat flow, keeping warm air inside during winters and preventing hot air from entering in summers. It's essential for controlling indoor temperatures.
Often properties built more than 20 years ago have insufficient insulation due to outdated building standards. Landlords should prioritise topping up insulation in lofts, as heat rises and escapes through the roof, and use insulation types like fibreglass batting, rigid foam boards or blown-in cellulose depending on the location. When installing insulation, eliminate any gaps or air pockets that allow heat transfer.
Beyond insulation itself, ensure windows and doors have weatherstripping to seal air leaks. Replace any rotting weather stripping around movable joints, and caulk gaps and cracks throughout the property where air infiltration can decrease insulation effectiveness. Simple steps like these improve air sealing and complement insulation upgrades. Improving insulation is critical for tenants' comfort and utility cost savings, and they will appreciate the warmer winters and cooler summers that proper insulation provides.
Install smart thermostats
Installing smart thermostats is an impactful upgrade landlords can make to simultaneously increase energy efficiency and provide more convenience for tenants. Smart thermostats go far beyond basic programmable thermostats. They utilise Wi-Fi connectivity and learning algorithms to optimise heating and cooling.
A key advantage of smart thermostats is remote accessibility. Tenants can adjust temperatures anytime from their smartphones, even when away from home. Landlords also benefit from being able to apply settings and schedules remotely. The thermostats can automatically follow customised heating and cooling schedules tailored for when occupants are home or away, preventing energy waste when not needed. Motion detectors enable useful occupancy sensing abilities, auto-adjusting temperatures up or down when residents come and go, avoiding heating or cooling empty spaces.
As energy costs continue rising and tenants increasingly prioritise sustainable living, focusing on efficiency and green upgrades is becoming essential for landlords. For tenants, green features allow them to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on bills, while for landlords, efficiency upgrades make properties competitive, profitable, and environmentally friendly. With modest investments in sustainability now, landlords can reap significant dividends for years to come while also contributing to the environment and tenant satisfaction.
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