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Smart Home Ideas and Technology for Rentals

In a world that is largely driven by technology, smart home solutions have become increasingly popular with homeowners. Not only are they eco-friendly, they can also allow you to save money on energy bills, automate your home’s climate and make your rental property management more straightforward.

As your tenants are the ones who are actually living in your rental property, they will reap most of the benefits that come as the result of the installation of smart devices. Nonetheless, this is not to say that you as a landlord would not also benefit.

In this article, we take a look at smart home ideas and technology and how they can benefit you, your tenants and the environment.

Smart home ideas for your rental property

Smart home technologies are designed specifically to make homes more energy-efficient. In short, this means that you will use less energy. This is both better for the environment and better for your wallet. 

Here are some smart home ideas to make your rental property more eco-friendly:

1. Heating and cooling

eco-friendly homes

Heating and cooling are two of the biggest bill factors for rental properties and also the most energy inefficient processes. Most heating (and cooling) systems are poorly regulated and costly to run and maintain. 

People tend to 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.

With the installation of smart home devices, you can monitor the temperature of the property and control it more precisely. For example, if you have a smart thermostat and realize halfway through the day that you left the heating on, you can turn it off using an app. This will save you time, stress, and money. 

One example of heating and cooling smart home tech is Nest, which allows you to heat or cool your home and even adjust the temperature after you or your tenants have left the building. 

Ecobee smart thermostats give you similar flexibility. They state that to date, their thermostats have delivered over 25 TWh of energy savings, which is the equivalent of taking 3.8 million cars off the road for a year. With these figures, it’s easy to see why this smart home idea is worth implementing.

2. Lighting 

It’s not just a smart thermostat that offers big savings for your wallet and the environment. People are also notoriously bad at turning lights off when they leave a room, leaving huge potential for savings.

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. Not to mention the inconvenience of a bulb breaking just when you need it. 

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 are left on for.

Similar to smart thermostats, smart lighting can also be controlled remotely, enabling you to give the impression that someone is home by turning on and off lights. This can contribute to the security of your property when your tenants are away for extended periods of time.

3. Electronics, appliances, and energy

Household appliances are very similar to heating and cooling when it comes to energy waste. There may be times when your tenants have left appliances on in the home, and only realized after they have come home from work, or even from a long vacation. 

If appliances such as ovens or stoves are left on accidentally, this can lead to irreparable damage and an increased risk of fires. Therefore, it is worth looking into smart home ideas for electrical appliances.

Sense energy monitoring systems are one example of a home intelligence system that will save energy, allow tenants to remotely control appliances, and avoid disaster. Tenants can see whether they have left the garage door open or left the TV on.

When your tenants can control everything right from their smartphone, they do not have to worry about these types of problems. Plus, you as the landlord will have increased peace of mind.

4. Water and moisture inside the property

You can save water in a rental property in a couple of ways. Firstly, you can look into smart accessories such as the Hydrao shower head. This uses LED lights to let you know when you have used your water quota for the day (you set this yourself).

Moisture can also be monitored using smart home tech. Sensors can detect excessive moisture which can be indicative of damp problems, plumbing issues, and broken pipes.

eco-friendly homes

5. Smart irrigation and water outside the property

Another way to save water is in the yard. Keeping a well-maintained yard is a source of pride for many people. However, if your tenants are showering the garden with a hose every couple of days, this may not be the most efficient use of water. 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 property’s yard to some degree, as it can be automated. This means less reliance on your tenants, giving both of you more time to focus elsewhere.

Benefits of smart home ideas

1. Attract and retain renters with premium amenities

In this housing market, there are lots of options for tenants, so securing quality renters can be quite competitive. To attract the best prospects, you will want to offer some of the best facilities, which is where smart home ideas come into play.

Having smart tech installed to help your tenants live more sustainably, and more cost-efficiently is something that will appeal to a broad range of tenant prospects.

For renters considering whether or not to renew their leases, the smart tech could mean the difference between ones that leave, and ones that stay.

2. Raise the rent

The three most desirable features in a property that tenants would consider paying more for are: an in-unit washer/dryer, central air conditioning, and a balcony/garden area. However, something like a smart thermostat offers much of the same appeal as central air conditioning and is much easier to install and add as a benefit.

When you add amenities to improve a unit’s 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 analyze the use of each property, 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 unit more 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.

eco-friendly homes

4. Better manage your short-term rentals

While a tenant in a long-term rental may reap more of the benefits of smart home tech than the landlord, with short-term rentals, this is not the case. As short-term guests will not be paying for utilities, having more control over the temperature of your property, the appliances, and the energy use will work in your favor.

Drawbacks of smart home ideas

1. Initial costs

Smart home technologies are still relatively new to the market. As such, they often come at a premium. 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 want to add a smart thermostat, this cost could very quickly stack up.

2. Renters who pay utilities pocket the savings

With a smart thermostat, you may attract better tenants and you may be able to charge a little bit more rent. However, if your tenants are paying their own bills, it’s going to be them who make the big savings. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just means that the reward is a little less tangible for you.

3. Security concerns

Another downside to smart home technology is that the security may be breached. Like any technology, smart home appliances may be subject to hacking or network failures. If your internet connection is poor or sporadic at best, you may experience frustration when trying to remotely control your devices.

4. Your money may be better invested elsewhere

Whilst the idea of installing smart technology in your rental property 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 to implement smart home improvements. Urgent maintenance should take precedence over installing smart tech.

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. Ask yourself what your renters actually want and work from there. 

Final Words

There are plenty of new technologies designed to make a 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 your tenant retention.

That being said, do your market research and make sure to prioritize your necessary renovations and refurbishments first. After that, think about which smart home ideas you can implement to benefit your tenants, yourself, and the environment.

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Danielle Mason

Danielle is a specialist content creator with a keen interest for real estate and tenanting issues. She loves travel and works remotely when she can. Prior to joining LandlordBoss, Danielle wrote for companies in the technology, retail and start-up industries

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