Savvy Landlords: Why Invest in Energy-Efficient Improvements in Rentals?

by Lacy Stockton | Dec 08, 2020

Paul Schmidt is candid: he’s no environmentalist. Still, he and Nancy Schmidt have found that doing the “green” thing is often the right thing. It’s certainly been the smart choice for their property business and tenants.

Over the years, the couple has invested in energy-efficient improvements to their rental homes and office units in Wenatchee, even where they don’t pay the electricity bills.

“I’m trying to do what’s best for our community and tenants,” Paul says. “It’s warmer for them in winter and saves them money. I’m not sure that these improvements necessarily translate to higher rents, but we’ve found higher quality tenants who stay longer.”

The couple has made improvements that make a noticeable difference to tenants while still being cost-effective, thanks in part to rebates from Chelan County PUD.

Modern Water Heating (and a Cool Bonus!)

The Schmidts installed heat pump water heaters in their house and rentals. The modern technology uses about 60% less energy to heat water than a standard electric water heater, for about 10% savings on a home’s electricity bill. Many models also offer Wi-Fi connectivity for control from anywhere. This makes saving money easy, especially when you’re out of town and can switch off your water heater from your phone.

Energy savings aren’t the only reason the Schmidts switched.

heat pump water heater in laundry room
A heat pump water heater might not look exciting, but it saves big, using 60% less to heat water every day for longer than a standard electric water heater.

“It’s basically free air conditioning in summer,” Paul notes. Heat pump water heaters pull heat from the air to efficiently heat water. The cooler exhaust air can be used in the home for cooling.

“Some people probably think, ‘These things are too complex. Let’s not get one,’ when they hear about new technology,” Paul says, but after using heat pump water heaters in his homes for years without a hitch, he highly recommends them.

Heat pump water heaters also last longer and require less maintenance than standard electric units. Install one in your home and get $800 cash back from Chelan PUD.

Weatherproofing All Around

The Schmidts found that improved weatherproofing increased the curb appeal – and values – of their properties. They added blown-in attic insulation, which made their rental more comfortable year-round and reduced the heating and cooling bills for the tenants.

person blows in insulation into attic
Attic insulation is a quick and inexpensive way to improve home comfort and reduce your electricity bills year-round.

The couple also upgraded to efficient windows in their house, rentals, and office building. The first difference they noticed was the noise reduction. The unbearable morning heat gain was also gone from the rooms with large east-facing windows, and they could remove unsightly exterior awnings from their home. Plus, the homes and offices were less drafty.

Two people installing new windows in home in background with new window in foreground
New energy-efficient windows make spaces more comfortable, seal out sound, and increase the value of your home.

Chelan PUD paid as much as 70 percent of their project costs and recently doubled the cash back on efficient windows and insulation for homes and businesses. The increase in rebates has meant some projects have been fully paid by Chelan PUD cash back.

Showing True Colors

The couple renovated the lighting in the King Professional Building in downtown Wenatchee to efficient LEDs. The lighting was designed with the specific tenants in mind, including offices and a dental practice.

“The dentist especially loves the lighting improvements,” Paul beams. With LEDs, “you can see colors so much better.”

Dentist exam light with overhead lighting behind
LED lights are up to 90% more efficient than standard office lighting and shine in truer colors--perfect for a dentist office.

Chelan PUD pays up to 75 percent of project costs for efficient commercial lighting and controls.

Unexpected Energy Efficiency Enthusiasts

“I’m not a huge greenie or environmentalist,” Paul admits, “but I think it’s important to be good stewards of our natural resources.”

As stewards of our shared hydroelectric power, each of us chooses how we consume electricity. Every kWh saved is more energy that we can sell to other regions, bringing in money to fund our low, subsidized electric rates, public parks, fiber internet expansion, and other public power benefits.

If you’d like to know more about rebates and which energy efficient improvements can make a big difference in your home, business, or rental, visit our Save Energy pages or give us a call at (509) 661-8008.


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