The need for sustainable housing is more urgent than ever. With greenhouse gas emissions on the rise, we must limit our carbon footprints.
Research has shown that household consumption accounts for a large percentage of total carbon emissions. This means that landlords can hugely impact the health of communities and environments.
In many ways, renting is already more sustainable than homeowning. Features like walkability, small size, and shared community areas make renters’ lifestyles highly sustainable.
However, you control which appliances and renovations are installed, how much you charge for utilities, and whether you encourage eco-friendly policies.
By investing in new green technology, adjusting your policies, and monitoring energy use in your rentals, your rental business can make a difference in maintaining community health and wellness.
Here are five ways to reduce your carbon footprint in your rental business.
- Prioritize Energy Efficiency
Prioritizing energy efficiency is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Conventional stoves and ovens that run on electricity or natural gas rack up substantial utility bills and harm the environment.
Instead, opt for energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen. Induction stovetops use less heat and energy to cook your food than conventional gas and electric ones. Similarly, convection ovens use hot air to cook food faster and at lower temperatures.
By installing these appliances in your units, you can reduce your energy usage and carbon footprint while keeping utility bills down for tenants.
Make sure to read the fine print about any appliances you find that claim to be “energy efficient.” Find out how the machine uses energy compared to older models. A true energy-efficient appliance is more efficient than the government standard set by the U.S. Department of Energy or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Encourage Alternative Transport
You can’t control whether your tenants drive a car to work every day. However, you can encourage alternative methods of transport, including biking, walking, and public transportation.
For example, let’s say your properties are in a downtown area. Advertise the walkability of your units to local shops, restaurants, and businesses. You could also highlight the nearby bike paths, install bike racks for tenants in shared spaces, or even create incentives for tenants who pledge to use alternative transportation.
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While most tenants still drive traditional cars, electric vehicles are increasingly popular, especially in Western coastal states like California and Oregon. If you notice that drivers in your area have electric vehicles, consider installing a charging station on your properties. This is one way to attract tenants who are like-minded about reducing their carbon footprint.
- Install Smart Home Technology
One of the most common sources of energy waste occurs when tenants accidentally leave lights or heating on. This problem can be solved with smart home technology, which allows automation and refined control of household utilities.
Smart lights turn on and off depending on who’s home. They can also be remotely controlled from a smartphone.
Likewise, smart thermostats automatically keep units at comfortable temperatures while limiting energy use when tenants aren’t home.
Another benefit of smart home technology is that it may be integrated with property management app. For example, Appfolio fully integrates with SmartRent, a smart home technology company.
Smart home technology is an excellent way to prioritize green initiatives in your rental business.
- Improve Insulation
Are your properties in a cold climate, causing tenants to crank up the heat in the winter? If so, you may be wasting more energy and emitting more carbon than you realize.
Proper insulation can reduce heating bills and emissions.
There are many eco-friendly alternatives to traditional insulation, which isn’t always effective. Sheep’s wool or cotton insulation can help conserve heat and control airflow in your rentals.
- Monitor Water Usage
Finally, water usage is a frequent form of waste in rental units.
One solution is to encourage tenants to limit shower times and wash fewer loads of clothes throughout the week. However, there’s no guarantee that tenants will follow these guidelines.
Instead, consider installing low-flow fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens. A low-flow faucet restricts the flow of water to only what’s necessary. You can also install leak detectors or low-consumption washers and dishwashers, which use less water with each load.
Going Green in Your Rental Business
Some green initiatives may require a small financial investment up front. However, energy-efficient appliances, smart home technology, improved insulation, and low-flow fixtures will ultimately save you money in the long run. By prioritizing these upgrades, you can reduce your business’s carbon footprint and help your tenants do the same.
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