It’s a common dilemma: landlords pay for utilities and end up footing the bill for tenants who are careless with their energy efficiency. Tenants often take advantage of the fact that they don’t have to pay the electric bill, leading to the misuse of thermostats and inefficient use of appliances.
Over the years, these unnecessary costs can add up to a significant hole in your wallet. Luckily, a bit of improved communication can help you and your tenant work together to conserve energy. It’s a win-win for both parties – and for the earth.
During your initial interview with a potential tenant and the subsequent signing of the lease, be transparent about how much the unit’s energy usage costs you. Make it clear that while you’re willing to pay for utilities, this presents a significant expense to you. Hiding how much electricity costs can lead to your tenants assuming it’s not that much or that he/she can afford to leave the AC on during a two-week vacation away from home. Be honest about costs from the start.
Next, inspire your tenants to care about energy conservation and efficiency. Explain how important it is for building tenants to change their usage strategies for effective energy management. Leave brochures and pamphlets from Energy Star with your tenants so that they stay informed about the costs of lax energy usage. Raising awareness and educating your tenants with specific energy-saving tips can lead to a building full of knowledgeable, considerate boarders.
Write a letter to the tenant explaining that you’ll measure each person’s energy consumption data each month and reward the lowest usages. Offer incentives such as a few dollars off of rent payments, gift cards to local stores, or a chance to enter a drawing for free rent for a month. Make energy conservation a contest among your tenants to encourage them to do what they can to save at all times.
Equip your property with thermostats that limit how much a tenant can adjust the temperature. Tenants will still be comfortable, as these thermostats don’t limit usage so much as to prevent the tenant from achieving a reasonable temperature. They simply prevent tenants from putting the temperature on 60 degrees to “speed up” the cooling process – something that only wastes energy. These thermostats give you complete control over how hot or cold a tenant can make a home or apartment, putting you in charge.