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Renting an Older Home? 4 Utility Cost-Saving Updates

If you’re renting an older home, you may discover that utility costs are more than you might expect. There are several reasons that you may be paying more than in a newer home. Often, they are little issues that can easily be fixed for just a few dollars. Consider making a few updates to your rental to save money in the long run. Just be sure to get landlord’s approval before beginning any project that can’t be easily undone when you move out.

Turn the Hot Water Heater Down

If you’ve noticed that the water from the kitchen faucet is extremely hot, you can fix this problem on your own. You’re paying for more electricity and you risk getting burned if the water is too hot. You just need to find the setting on the hot water heater and lower it.

Install Low-Flow Faucets and Fixtures

First Class Plumbing, says “Some of the more common problems in older buildings include 

lead pipes, not installing shield plates where pipes pass through the studs, not burying the plumbing deeply enough underground and not having the proper shut-off valves in place. Inadequate drain slopes can also be a problem, making it easy for pipes to clog because the escaping water leaves behind solid materials. Improper venting can also cause problems down the line. install low-flow faucets and toilets unless you know how to do the job yourself. It is a quick fix that will help you save money each month by using less water. A prime area for this task is in the shower. Most people don’t need all the water that is lost in a single shower. With a low-flow showerhead, you can save several gallons for every shower, especially if you have a family.”  You can easily pick up a Low flow showerhead  at any big box home improvement center for less than $20 and install it yourself, usually with just an adjustable wrench. And if you want to upgrade to a great shower and still save on water you can go to Amazon and get a great shower massager with 6 settings and it’s handheld so you can direct it better and it’s still under $20. Just save the old showerhead and replace it when you move out.

Older homes often come with higher water bills because they use older plumbing fixtures that had higher water usage. For instance, according to SFGate “Toilets manufactured in the 1980s use 3.5 gallons per flush, and models manufactured prior to that use even more, between 5 and 7 gallons per flush. When you consider the average person flushes five times per day, this can account for a considerable amount of water usage, particularly in multi-person households… Every toilet manufactured since 1994 uses a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush. Some newer models use as little as 1.28 gallons per flush. While early models used to draw complaints about their poor flushing capabilities, low-flush toilets now flush just as well as their older, water-wasting counterparts. Toilets account for almost one-third of all household water usage, meaning a multi-person household can save several thousand gallons per year by switching to a low-flush toilet.”

Caulk the Windows

Many older properties have never had their windows replaced. Even though this should be the landlord’s job often they neglect it. An easy solution that only costs a couple of bucks and helps prevent loss of heat in the winter or cool air in the summer is to caulk around the edges of the windows. You will also want to check outlets and doors which can allow air to escape as well. If you have single pane windows you are wasting a lot of energy. There are a few things you can do to stop heat loss or gain through your windows.  The first thing you can do is totally free just use bubble wrap as in this video.

If you want something fancier there are window insulating kits available that use clear plastic to cover the windows.

Install Ceiling Fans

Another way to cut the cost of heating or cooling is to install ceiling fans in every room. This might be a problem if there is no ceiling fixture but if there is a fixture it is a fairly simple update for anyone with basic electrical skills. Just replace the current light fixture with one that includes a ceiling fan. The fan will help stir air around, keeping it cooler in the summer (and believe it or not slowly stirring the air in the winter prevents the heat from collecting at the ceiling and actually makes it feel warmer. You just have to flip the switch based on whether you want warm air or cool air pushed down.

These updates will enhance any older home, and they won’t cost a lot to the renter. You’ll quickly notice the savings every time you see one of your utility bills. You might even get lucky enough to have your landlord reimburse you once the job is completed.


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