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Save Money on Your Water Bill: Easy Tips for Landlords

Illustration about someone taking a long bath because she know how to save water
June 20, 2018

As a rental property owner, it’s important to pay attention to the water efficiency in your units, not only for the planet but also for your wallet.

In a multi-unit building, water efficiency and conservation are in the hands of the building owner. The owner can use new, efficient technology and educate their tenants on ways to reduce water usage.

Track usage to identify how much water your building is using each month. You’ll be able to see where the most water is being used. You’ll also be able to see any leaks or inefficient areas in the facility.

So how do you lower your water bill?

Update facilities

Because 60 percent of water consumption happens in a home’s bathroom, replacing older, less efficient fixtures is often a good place to start.

If you have old toilets from the early 90s or before, consider replacing them. Newer toilets comply with energy guidelines and use 1.6 gallons per flush or less. Replacing older toilets with newer ones will save you 5-10 gallons per day, per toilet. That’s up to 300 gallons a month per unit.

Installing restricting aerators in all faucets will help prevent water waste and lower your bill.

Fix leaks

This seems obvious, but it’s often the obvious remedies that are forgotten about. It’s important to be vigilant about leaks, but this is easier said than done.

You or your property manager can and should monitor for leaks in common areas. However, you’ll need tenants to cooperate in reporting leaks in any of your apartments. Most have no problem calling you up when there is a problem. But water leaks aren’t always apparent right away. By the time you or tenants notice them, they may have already cost hundreds of dollars in water bills and caused substantial damage to boot.

In order to prevent this, put your building on a regular leak check from a reliable plumbing service. If tenants know that a plumber will be coming on a regular quarterly schedule, it’ll be much easier to gain access to the units. Most tenants will appreciate this service because they won’t have to worry that a burst pipe or leaking ceiling will ruin their belongings.

Rethink your landscaping

It doesn’t always have to cost you money to save money (ex – replacing fixtures). If you use your own landscaping team, rethink how they are taking care of the property. How often are they watering plants? And what types of plants are they watering? Hardier foliage – honeylocust, rose to glow Japanese barberry and summer hydrangea – are deficient maintenance, requiring little water and pruning. When choosing new plants, pick drought-tolerant varieties that won’t need frequent drenching.

Get tenants involved

Residents in most multi-family homes don’t get a water or sewer bill and have no idea how much they’re using. They may not be aware that utility costs are rolled into their rent. And because they don’t see a reduction in rent when being more efficient with their water use, they usually don’t bother putting effort into conservation.

In order to get everyone on board, let tenants know that if everyone cooperates, there will be a significant decrease in the sewer and water bill. Decide how can you can pass some of the savings along to tenants to help entice them to participate in conservation efforts.

Start by setting a goal – lower water and sewer charges by 10 percent for six months. Educate tenants on easy ways to reduce usage, such as taking shorter showers, running the dishwasher only when full, and turning off the water when brushing teeth. If the building reaches the goal, reward your tenants. You can offer a one-time monthly rent deduction of $15. You could drop a $5 coffee shop gift card off on all their doorsteps. Order a pizza delivered to each unit. A little effort and encouragement on your part will keep your tenants motivated in their quest for water efficiency. Over time, it will become the norm.

Not only is it great for the environment when your tenants preserve water, but it lets you preserve your bank account.

Need help getting started? A property management company can perform regular property inspections, make cost-effective fixture and landscape recommendations, and work with tenants for you. If there is ever a problem, a qualified company will have a network of skilled contractors in order to get the job done.

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