The cold weather is coming quickly in the Pacific Northwest. Now is the time to protect your rental property from damage to pipes and unexpected repair bills to the HVAC system. As a bonus, a well winterized property is more attractive to tenants; making it easier to attract new ones and keep your current – always-pay-on-time – tenants happy.
A certain amount of the responsibility for heating a home falls on the person leasing the unit but there are many things a property owner or property manager can do to keep the costs down and avoid unexpected repair bills or breakdowns.
Top 6 Tips to winterize rental property
- Outfit all units with a programmable thermostat
If your rental properties don’t already have automatic or programmable thermostats, then have them installed. This enables tenants to easily control and monitor temperatures, which can go a long way to reducing winter heating costs. By some estimates, a programmable thermostat can save about $150 on heating costs each year, making it easier for renters to afford rent and keeping them happier. Plus, a programmed thermostat can prevent pipes from freezing while residents are sleeping, at work, or away on vacation.
- Get an annual HVAC checkup
Just before winter is the perfect time to schedule an annual inspection for all of your heating/HVAC units and ductwork.
This accomplishes three things: ensures maximum energy efficiency, finds and fixes any safety hazards, and provides an update on the status of all heaters in rented rooms and buildings so you know when you will likely need to replace them.
- Install heat-resistant reflectors
If your apartments have radiator-style heat sources, then be sure to install heat-resistant reflectors between the radiators and the adjacent walls. This will direct the heat into the room instead of just the wall.
Also, remind renters to move furniture (and curtains or any flammable items) several feet from the radiators. This eliminates a fire hazard and increases heat circulation.
- Add extra insulation at key points
If your windows lack sufficient insulation around them, it’s worthwhile to have them re-insulated or to invest in double-paned windows. For doors, the main issue is to install an effective door sweep to block air from traveling in/out through bottom-of-door gaps.
Also, it pays to insulate outlets and switches because a lot of cold air can get in through them. And if the attic of a rented home isn’t insulated, pre-winter is the perfect time to get it done!
- Switch out lights for Energy Star approved ones
The dark days of winter tend to make people use their lights more often, and this can push up costs and increase the carbon footprint of your rental properties.
Replacing even just the five most commonly used light fixtures/bulbs to Energy Star approved ones in each unit can save $50 to $100 per year. It could also qualify you for a tax deduction and be seen by your tenants as an additional “perk.”
- Post winter efficiency tips on tenants’ doors!
Many of your renters would follow good tips for boosting energy efficiency during the winter months if they were only reminded of them at the right time.
Include on the list things like opening the drapes/curtains during daylight hours, always turning off lights in rooms not currently in use, closing doors to rooms that don’t need to be heated, changing the air filter before and after winter, and running ceiling fans backward to push heat down from the ceiling.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money or take a lot of time to winterize most rental properties. Giving quick attention to key points like those mentioned above makes a world of difference. Both you and your tenants will benefit when you take steps to prepare your units for the upcoming winter season.
Son-Rise Property Management has been serving the property management needs of Bellingham and Whatcom County since 1996. Contact us today to see how we can help you find a rental property for your family or manage your rental properties.