We are becoming more aware of how the environment impacts our health, and the good news is that there are laws on the books designed to protect us from disease caused by air and water pollution. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) found in homes can lead to short term problems like asthma and headaches as well as long term problems like cancer and liver damage. Landlords are now taking steps to remove toxins from their rental units by making environmentally responsible choices. Energy-efficient appliances and windows are eco-friendly solutions that save both energy and money on utility bills.
As a landlord, there are some easy fixes that make your rental more eco-friendly for the health of your tenants, for the protection of the environment and to keep your property value up when it’s time to sell. Ask your property manager for recommendations that will maximize the return on your investment.
Choose Energy-Efficient Appliances
People have become more plugged in, and our obsession with electronics and all manner of gadgets takes its toll on energy bills, not to mention the negative impact on the environment. There is a wide difference between the energy consumption of appliances. A desktop computer will use less than $50 per year, while a clothes dryer can eat up $96 per year. Landlords can adhere to ENERGY STAR principles when it comes time to buy a new appliance for a rental unit. Compare the Energy Guide labels on major appliances to select an energy-efficient model that will lower energy bills for tenants while protecting the environment.
Image Source: energy.gov
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Placing a programmable thermostat in your rental property is one of the easiest and most cost-effective fixes to make your home more eco-friendly. Programmable thermostats provide pre-programmed settings that regulate the temperature in the home. If residents are away during the day while they are at work or school, it makes sense to kick up the air-conditioning or lower the heat for those long daytime hours. Many programmable thermostats offer an option to accommodate people who sleep in and spend time at home on the weekend.
Sealing and insulating your rental unit will save energy and money on energy bills. When air leaks through windows and walls, energy is wasted. Proper insulation will seal leaks for better energy efficiency, while reducing noise, maintaining humidity control and lessening pollen, pests and dust in the home. Energy Star recommendations include insulating your attic, sealing behind your windows and door trim, insulating your basement and applying plastic over windows. Installing insulation around ducts can also save energy.
Optimize Solar Energy
In a state like Florida that has a great deal of sunshine, it pays to harness the solar power of the sun to provide electricity minus harmful emissions. Solar panels can save your tenants money on their electric bill and make your rental more appealing to tenants. Solar panels come as standalone units as well as units that can connect to the power grid. For a rental property, removable solar panels are a good choice. Consult a professional to realize the proper orientation and ventilation of the solar panels for maximum results.
Use the Right Materials
If you are like many landlords, you give your rental unit a fresh coat of paint between tenants at the end of the lease for repeat tenants. The eco-friendly choice is to buy paint without VOCs, which are often water-based. Toxic VOCs are also found in building materials for joists and trusses. Using engineered wood products that offer the same strength is the more responsible choice. Make the environmentally friendly decision to choose building materials that have no or low VOCs.
Install a Water Filtration System
Clean water is becoming an issue worldwide, and people are taking precaution to guard against toxins and pollutants effectively with water filtration systems. Install a point of use filtration system under the counter or as a faucet mount, and consider a whole house water unit that works with filtration, reverse osmosis or distillation. Your property manager can make a recommendation suitable for your particular rental home.
Choose Energy-Efficient Windows
When it’s time to change the windows in your rental, do your homework and buy advanced energy-efficient models that will minimize heating and cooling bills as well as lighting costs. Take the time to learn about the energy performance ratings so you know which windows are best for your home and climate. Low-e coatings on the glass surface can control the heat transfer through windows, and tinted glass can filter out a substantial amount of heat. The US Department of Energy recommends that you contact a professional to install your windows according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.