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The UK is the third-largest producer of natural gas. Homeowners and renters use this resource to cool and heat their apartments and homes. It’s convenient, but it takes an environmental toll and runs a significant bill every month. Many property owners are seeking ways to improve their energy efficiency.

Whether you or your renters pay the electric bills, there are many benefits to finding ways to decrease energy waste. If you are renting a property out, it can be difficult to manage your tenants’ energy usage. That’s why taking action yourself can be the best approach. 


Benefits of Improving Energy Efficiency

If you’re footing the bill for your property’s electric usage, the benefits of energy efficiency are clear. You have the potential to save significantly on your electric bill each month. That money can be reinvested in your property to make it even more marketable to renters. 

Even if electricity is included in your tenants’ rent, you can still profit from making upgrades. Finding ways to reduce energy loss will keep your residents happy and less likely to move. And when you do have a vacancy you’re trying to fill, boasting low energy costs is sure to attract renters. Along with the price considerations, renters will appreciate that your building is less drafty and more modern compared to others.

Equally important today are the environmental considerations. Improving your property’s energy efficiency will help reduce your carbon footprint. While solutions like solar panels and water reduction may cost more upfront, they save you money down the road. Further, many potential renters are interested in more sustainable living, hoping to do their part in preventing rising sea levels, severe droughts, and loss of wildlife.

It is important to think about those initial costs and whether the efficiency and reduced waste are worth the price tag. More often than not, they will be a smart investment that will appeal to the current market. 

No matter your budget, there are solutions that will work for you, your renters and your property. Even implementing just one change could make all the difference. Here is a look at how you can create a more energy-efficient property for your renters.


1. Install a Smart Thermostat

Leaving heat or air conditioning on when it’s not necessary can be a major contributor to energy usage. 

Smart thermostats automatically adjust to the tenant’s temperature preference. Plus, they even shut off when you’re not home to save energy. Heating and cooling are one of the larger monthly expenses. 

A programmable thermostat can save renters about £110 per year on energy bills while reducing their carbon footprint.

Modern amenities like this are growing in popularity, and many modern complexes are making the switch. Installing a high quality system will be a great bonus for prospective renters when touring your property. 


2.  Seal the Windows and Doors

Energy can leak through gaps in your windows and doors, making heating and cooling work harder for lost results. A quick fix would be to seal, caulk, or weather-strip these holes to reduce energy waste. When air escapes, it causes the HVAC system to generate more, increasing carbon emissions and your monthly bill.

Sealing the windows will prevent water damage and drafts as well. Along with your casements, seal outlets and switches.

If there is any air coming through them, put gaskets behind them.

These solutions can be easy ways to increase your property’s value while making renters happier in the space.


3. Invest in a Tankless Water Heater

A traditional water heater uses hot water that consumes tons of energy. In fact, a typical water heater will use around 4,000 watts.

However, tankless water heaters conserve water and lower energy bills. Plus, they last longer and require less maintenance. You can also turn down your water heater’s settings or use an insulating jacket to conserve energy.


4. Change the Furnace Filters

Regular furnace maintenance can make a big difference in your property. You will want to change the filter monthly to prevent dust accumulation inside the furnace. 

When dirt builds up, the system becomes less efficient and can even compromise indoor air quality. The inefficient furnace then releases more carbon emissions.

Each unit has its own specifications for installation, so read the directions carefully if installing it yourself. You can buy affordable fibreglass filters or pleated ones, which cost a little more. Either way, this step will help boost efficiency and provide your tenants with cleaner air. 


5. Use LED Light Bulbs

LED light bulbs use 75% less energy than incandescent lighting. The cost per bulb may be initially higher, but they will save you money down the line. Further, they have a longer lifespan, so you will not need to buy more as often, and they emit less heat than incandescent.

You can start by switching out bulbs in high-traffic areas, such as the kitchen. LED bulbs also work well as under-cabinet lighting or recessed ceiling lights. 

Changing light bulbs is likely one of the easiest methods in decreasing energy usage, as the one-time switch will last years and will only take a few minutes to resolve.  


6. Upgrade the Windows and Insulation

While replacing windows might be a greater investment in both cost and time, it can be well worth it, especially in an older property. 

Replace your current windows with energy-efficient ones and look for Low-E casements windows.

In addition, try to buy windows that are double-paned to prevent energy leakage. Here are a few more factors to consider:

  • Solar heat gain coefficient: This metric describes how well the window deflects solar radiation.
  • U-factor: This shows the rate at which the window conducts a non-solar flow of heat.
  • Air leakage: This informs you of how much air can escape through the window, a critical factor in reducing energy loss. 

Old windows with cracks are a major contributor to energy loss. Especially in hot and cold weather, tenants will crank up the heat or air conditioning to make up for the air leakage. Receiving an energy bill at these times of year can be a shock. 

If you can’t upgrade your windows entirely, opt for a simpler fix by caulking any gaps. Check doors as well. Air will seep out large openings at the bottom of doors, so installing a weather strip to block the draft can help, as well. 


7.  Add Insulation

Insulation can also keep a comfortable temperature and prevent air leaks. Like upgrading windows and doors, this strategy will help lower heating and cooling costs. 

Consider insulating the walls and crawl spaces in your building. 

If your property has an attic or basement, these are good places to bulk up the insulation, as they are typically the coldest areas of a home.

There are multiple types of insulation materials to choose from. For areas with standard joist spacing, go for batts. For non-standard areas with odd joist spacing, try using loose-fill insulation.

You can also insulate the floors. Around 15% of lost heat escapes through the floor of a home. Ground floors are the most susceptible to lost heat, so they should be the focus. However, floors over garages can also have heat leak through them. 


8. Buy a Humidifier

Using a humidifier can help keep your building humidity levels consistent. Plus, in the winter, residents can lower their thermostats and save money, as the humidifier will raise the interior temperature. 

A humidifier can help improve indoor air quality as well. They help decrease dry air that leads to sinus issues, bloody noses, and cracked lips. This can be a simple solution to implement before diving into a more time consuming project. 


9. Update the Appliances

Apartment appliances can consume tons of energy, especially when left plugged in, so upgrade to EnergyLabel appliances such as refrigerators and clothes washers. These machines typically also conserve water.

To make current appliances more efficient, leave a small space surrounding the refrigerator. The airflow helps it operate more efficiently. In addition, remind tenants to regularly clean their fridge coils. You can also remind them to unplug appliances when they’re not in use. However, don’t rely on unplugging alone, as it can be easy for tenants to forget.


10. Incorporate Low-Flow Showerheads

Low-flow showerheads can help conserve about 2,700 gallons (12,274 litres) per year. 

Water usage can be difficult to compromise, but water scarcity can cause issues for agriculture and economic growth. 

So, look for a showerhead with an Energy Saving Trust Recommended label indicating it meets Environment Agency standards. These controlled showerheads regulate water usage to keep the burden of trying to take shorter showers off your renters. 


11. Try Dark Curtains or Paint

If your property is expending significant energy to lost heat, consider alternative ways to absorb it. In the winter, thermal or blackout curtains can keep heat inside, rather than allowing it to escape out single pane or drafty windows. 

While in the warmer months, putting up white or metallic curtain backings will reflect the sunlight beating down inside. This will keep the home cooler. Therefore, curtains can reduce the need to turn up both the heat and air conditioning throughout the year. 

Similarly, the building’s exterior paint color can impact the interior temperatures. Opting for a darker paint color will absorb heat, while lighter colors will reflect light to make the home cooler. This decision will depend on location, whether your property is in a colder or warmer climate.


12. Go Solar

Installing solar panels can be a worthwhile investment for those looking to make a more permanent solution. If your property’s roof is south or south-westerly facing, you might consider switching to solar energy. 

It is more environmentally friendly, and it has the potential to earn you significant savings.  

Smaller steps towards switching to solar could include installing exterior solar-powered lights in a garden or walkway, as opposed to lampposts or electric corded lights. 

Deciding What Changes to Implement

Pursuing all of these energy options at once might be too ambitious, so it’s important to evaluate your needs and budget. 

Start by doing a walkthrough of your property. Identify any problem areas, like old windows, crawl spaces that could be leaking air, or outdated light bulbs. Make a list of all the possible improvements you could make, whether small fixes or larger projects. 

If you have current tenants, be sure to ask them about any problems they’ve experienced that you might not be aware of. They will know which rooms get drafty and whether the space seems to be losing heat or cooling. 

Some tasks you can easily take on yourself on a small budget, like switching out lightbulbs or caulking cracks in windows. Others might require consulting a professional, like installing solar panels or replacing large appliances. But do not let that discourage you. Installing new refrigerators or adding insulation to attic spaces are well worth the time and cost of hiring a contractor. 

Take the time to evaluate the condition of your property. Decide which improvements would make the biggest impact on your energy usage. Keep in mind your tenants’ satisfaction, as well. 

While it may seem overwhelming deciding where to start, a simple evaluation and some research on your options can make the process easier. Start small and work your way up to larger projects, and remember the benefits and savings along the way. 


How to Increase Energy-Efficiency at Your Property

When making upgrades to your property, there is a lot to consider. You want to cut costs and improve efficiency, but you don’t want to interfere with your tenants’ satisfaction. There are plenty of ways you can save money and boost energy efficiency while also maintaining high quality living conditions. On top of that, these methods will also help the environment and reduce waste, which is a major plus to many interested renters. So, follow these tips for designing an energy-efficient residence.
Author Bio: Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine Revivalist, and she enjoys writing about home design and improvement. Follow Cora on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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