Saving energy in the home can save you money as an investor as well. In addition to reducing the bills that your tenants may or may not be paying for you, ensuring that your home is as well insulated as possible is also a tremendous value-add for environmentally conscious renters. Insulation isn’t just about the pink stuff in your roof, either – there are lots of ways to make your home more energy-efficient.
These do a lot more than just make your windows look nice. The right window dressing will allow you to control how much light and heat comes into the home. When the sun is mercilessly beating down, simply closing the blinds or drapes can limit the heat that comes into the home, reducing the amount of time tenants need to run expensive A/C units. Here are three options:
Thermal blinds: You can expect to pay around $60 for a 20" x 60" thermal blind. You will need one per window. A unit with 10 windows would require an outlay of about $600, which isn’t insignificant, but thermal blinds provide the best temperatureregulating results.
Window films: These are attached directly to the glass and can cut heat loss by as much as 80%. The cost will depend on the number of windows you’d like to have treated and the size of those windows. I recommend getting someone out to give you a quote in this area, as costs vary from region to region.
Expect to pay around $2.25 to $3 per square foot if you’re having window films installed. If that’s not within your budget, you can cheat a little and find an adhesive window film at Walmart. These start around $8. It’s not exactly the same thing, but these films can help to block light and provide privacy for those inside.
Shutters: Installed on the outside of windows, shutters are extremely effective for areas that get a lot of sun during the day. You’re looking at around $20 per square foot to have these installed. This price can vary a lot depending on the type chosen, where they’re being installed, etc., but it should cost around $40 for a standard 24" x 24" window.
About a quarter of the energy lost in the average home is through the roof. If it’s time to replace the roof on one of your properties, consider the following:
Asphalt roof tiles: An excellent choice, asphalt tiles will reflect around threequarters of the solar rays they catch, which keeps the inside of the house cooler. Asphalt roofs cost an average of $4,750 to install.
Metal roofs: Less than ideal, metal roofs absorb a lot of solar radiation, which leads to a warmer interior. If you want to go this route, expect to pay around $10,000.
Make it light, keep it bright: The lighter the material and the brighter its colour, $8. It’s not exactly the same thing, but these films can help to block light and provide privacy for those inside. the more sunlight your roof will reflect. It pays to have your roof tiles cleaned every few years to ensure that they can reflect as much sunlight as possible. By switching to a lighter-coloured roof, you can save up to 40% on cooling costs in your home.
Whatever colour or material your roof is, make sure the ceiling is properly insulated. This should be your top priority when creating a more energy-efficient home.
Walls and doors
Another 30% or 40% of heat is lost through the walls of a home. You can reduce this loss by having the walls properly insulated. If you decide to take this project on, check all the exterior walls, including basement and attic walls.
Your home also loses a lot of heat through the doors, whether they’re open or closed. You might think that a wooden door would be well insulated, but you’d be wrong. Standard doors are hollow inside, and wood is porous, so you can lose a lot of heat through its surface.
Fiberglass, on the other hand, is a lot more energy-efficient. Expect to pay anywhere from $400 to just over $2,000 per door, depending on the size and design.
You might not have the budget to coat all your windows, install new doors or replace your roof. But there’s still a lot you can do on a relatively small budget.
Start by checking all the windows and door frames. Are they properly sealed, or are there gaps between the frame and the wall? Is the caulking on the windows still in good shape, or could it use an overhaul? Re-caulking your windows can be inexpensively done - caulk costs a few dollars a tube, plus a few more dollars for a caulk gun.
If you’re worried about the cost of blinds, consider installing privacy screens on some of your windows. At a few dollars each, privacy screens are relatively inexpensive and do a decent job of blocking some sunlight. They’re never going to be as effective as having an energy-efficient coating in place, but they will help as a stop-gap measure in the interim.
Making your home more energy-efficient doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg; a lot of it just means thinking about the materials you use, how best to use them and, if necessary, what the alternatives are. As you can see, you have plenty to choose from.
This article originally appeared in Canadian Real Estate Wealth magazine. For your special discounted magazine subscription, click here
Megan Arevalo is a community director and writer with a passion for real estate. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two young children.
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