Should you install eco-friendly tech in your rentals?
Smart home technology has become increasingly popular with homeowners over the last few years, not just because they’re eco-friendly. They allow you to save money on energy bills, automate your homes climate, and really just make life easier.
As a landlord you wouldn’t see a lot of the benefit from installing smart tech in your rentals – it would be your tenants that get the benefits. So why should you consider being an eco-friendly landlord?
Why is going smart a good idea?
Smart home technologies are designed specifically to make homes more energy efficient. Which, in short means you use less energy which is better for the environment and better for your wallet.
1. Less Energy Wasted when Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling are two of the biggest bill factors, and the most energy inefficient processes. Most heating (and cooling) systems are poorly regulated. People keep their houses too hot during the winter and too cold in the summer. Often they keep it like that even when they aren’t home. This simply isn’t eco-friendly, or budget friendly.
When you have smart home products you can monitor the houses temperature and control it more exactly. For example, let’s say you have a smart thermostat. You go to work one day and realise that you left the heating on. You could then turn it off via your app. Saving you time and money.
2. Smarter Usage of Your Lighting and Appliances
It’s not just a smart thermostat that could save money. People are notoriously bad at turning lights off when they leave a room.
In fact a study showed that as much as 17% of energy consumption was from lighting alone. If that wasn’t enough of an incentive to try and cut that down, there’s also the cost of bulbs! I don’t know about you but I die a little bit inside every time one of the overpriced halogens in the kitchen go out.
Fortunately there are plenty of ways to improve this scenario. By using smart devices you can control your lights and minimize the amount of time they’re left on.
Your lighting and appliances are very similar to heating and cooling when it comes to energy waste. There may be times that you have left appliances or lights on in the home, and only realized after you have come home from work, or even from a long vacation.
When you can control everything right from a smartphone, you do not have to worry about these types of problems.
A final note on smart lighting is that you can control it when you’re away enabling you to give the impression that someone is home by turning on and off lights. I know plenty of people that always leave a light on in the front room for just this reason.
3. Save Water
You can save water in the home in a couple of ways. First you could look into smart accessories such as the Hydrao shower head which uses LED lights to let you know when you have used your water quota (you set this yourself) for the day.
Another way to save is in the yard. Keeping a well maintained yard is a source of pride for many people. However, there’s a chance that you aren’t being exactly efficient showering the garden with a hose every couple of days. Instead, setting up a scheduled and timed system that’s connected to a local weather forecast could help you save on water waste.
This will also enable you as a landlord to control the maintenance of your properties yard to some degree as it can be automated meaning you don’t have to rely on your tenants!
Benefits for Eco-Friendly Landlords of installing Smart Home technology
#1: Attract and Retain Renters with Premium Amenities
In the housing market there are lots of options for tenants. Securing quality renters can be quite competitive. To attract the best prospects you will want to have some of the best facilities is vital, not just for peace of mind.
Having smart tech installed to help your tenants live more sustainably, and more cost efficiently is definitely something that appeals to a broad range of tenant prospects.
For renters considering whether or not to renew their leases, smart tech could mean the difference between ones that leave, and ones that stay.
#2: Raise the Rent
The 3 most desirable features in a property that tenants would consider paying more for are an in-unity washer/dryer, central air conditioning, and a balcony/garden area. However, something like a smart thermostat offers much of the same appeal and is much easier to install and add as a benefit.
When you add amenities to improve a units value, you will want to do some market research to work out just how much the addition is worth to prospective tenants. You don’t want to raise the rent too much and scare prospects off.
If your residents are considering renewing their lease, you can add your explanation for the upcharge in rent in your rent increase letter. For those who pay their own utilities, you can compare what they’d save in energy costs to what they’d spend in rent, and easily justify your case. Utility companies often do the analysis for you, so be sure to call it out when renters get the bill.
#3: Save Money if you’re Paying the Utilities
Smart technology for the home can help you make your units as energy efficient. For landlords who own multi-family residences and have no way of dividing bills amongst tenants this is a really easy way to save some money.
If your tenants aren’t paying for heat, they likely have no incentive to care about the heating bill, so this is a way for you to monitor it and save some costs. Additionally, if your unit is vacant, you won’t have to worry about wasting energy. You can also get an idea of total usage across your properties, if you own more than one.
Cons for Eco-Friendly Landlords of Installing Smart Home Technology
#1: Initial Costs
Smart technologies are still pretty new to the market. As such they often come with a high cost. For example, smart thermostats like Ecobee4, Nest Learning Thermostat, and Lux/Geo WiFi Thermostats start from $95 and range up to $300 – plus installation. If you have a few rentals where you wanted to add smart thermostat, this cost could very quickly spiral.
#2: Renters who Pay Utilities Pocket the Savings
You may attract better tenants and you may be able to charge a little bit more rent because of the thermostat, but if you’re tenants are paying their own bills, it’s going to be them who make the big savings. This isn’t a bad thing, the reward is just a little less tangible.
#3: Your Money May Be Better Invested Elsewhere
Whilst the idea of installing loads of smart technology may sound futuristic and cool, it’s not necessarily the most important thing. If you are planning some refurbishments or need to fork out for major renovations soon, you may be better off waiting on those smart installations.
Either way, consider your budget and make sure you do your market research to work out what is going to add the most value to your property. What do your renters actually want?
There are plenty of new technologies designed to make the home a more eco-friendly and energy efficient place. Having the right tech in place can make your rental more appealing to tenants and improve their experience in your rental helping you retain the best tenants.
That being said, do your market research and make sure to prioritise your necessary renovations and refurbishments first.