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News / Life / Clark County Life

Energy Adviser: Repairs keep rentals efficient

By Clark County Utilities
Published: August 22, 2020, 6:05am

These are challenging times for many people, including commercial property managers and owners of private rentals.

As many renters find themselves in financial crisis due to efforts to curb the ongoing pandemic, landlords continue to repair and maintain properties. 

Landlords can help tenants keep utility costs down and protect property values at the same time with low-cost maintenance — or by taking advantage of new higher utility incentives to increase energy efficiency.

“Making a rental more energy efficient will make energy bills more affordable and the home more comfortable for tenants — or property owners, if they’re the ones who pay the utility bills — and more appealing to future renters,” said Energy Services Supervisor DuWayne Dunham. “Plus, should they decide to sell the property, it’ll be equipped with modern, energy-efficient features that make it more attractive to buyers.”

Caulking around windows, doorframes and siding are low-cost and simple solutions to reducing energy waste and preventing moisture from getting into the home. Replacing or installing weather stripping around windows and exterior doors will hold the conditioned air inside while keeping drafts out.

Water leaks can drive up utility bills and, if left unaddressed in the wrong locations, may cause costly property damage. Make sure tenants know how to recognize the signs of leaks or water damage and have them report it immediately. Then, repair those issues as quickly as possible. Even a small drip from a faucet adds up to significant water waste and cost. If it’s warm water it will affect the electric bill as well.

Late summer is a great time of year to perform annual heating and cooling system maintenance. Replace the filters in your furnaces or in homes with zonal heaters, such as baseboard or wall heaters, keep them running at their most efficient with an annual cleaning. Cleaning them annually will ensure they operate safely.

Upgrading your property’s thermostat can save energy and keep tenants more comfortable. Modern line voltage thermostats for cable ceiling heaters, wall heaters and baseboards heaters will help tenants dial in their heating preferences more accurately. Smart thermostats will make an electric furnace or heat pump run as efficiently and comfortably as possible. With many working and schooling from home, savings from strategic heating and cooling can add up. Clark Public Utilities customers may qualify for a $50 rebate on the purchase of any new smart thermostat.

Planting of trees around your rental will give it extra curb appeal, and add natural shade in the summer. Planting hedges in the right spots will shield the home from those heat-sapping winter winds.

Landlords with qualifying low-income tenants may qualify for a significant number of weatherization upgrades at their rental properties at low or no cost. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program offers a low-income weatherization program, which will improve a home’s energy efficiency and comfort. Qualifying homes will get additional insulation, air leaks sealed and more. The program can also assist with minor weatherization repairs related to plumbing, heating systems, and ventilation issues.

The program is administered by Clark County’s Department of Community Development in partnership with Clark Public Utilities.

If your property needs window or HVAC upgrades, now may be the best time to make the investment. For a limited time, the utility has significantly raised rebates on heat pumps, ductless heat pumps and double- and triple-pane windows.

Electrically heated rentals of four or less living units within one building, down to a single-family home, are eligible for all current utility residential energy-efficiency programs if qualifying criteria are met.

To find out more, call the Clark Public Utilities Energy Counselor of the Day at 360-992-3355, or email ecod@clarkpud.com.


Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.

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