Electricity bills in a home are the highest bill that homeowners pay, and unfortunately, it is higher in vacation homes as opposed to residential homes. How is a home that is occupied less often have a higher bill? Guests do not always treat the vacation home as their own since they are only staying for a few days. They are often leaving lights on all day while visiting the Orlando theme parks or leaving the sliding glass doors open to the pool so they can keep an eye on the kids swimming while making lunch.
There are some cost-effective ways to reduce your electricity costs each month without giving harsh rules to the guest causing them to feel unwelcome. The cheapest improvement is to replace all lights with LED bulbs. They will help lower costs by up to 75%. LED televisions even put out less wattage now so if you haven’t upgraded your TVs and need to, we recommend getting LED. They still receive great quality lighting, but you won’t have as much cost monthly.
Air conditioning can be a huge factor in why your utility bill is so high. A vacation homeowner often has a property manager who overlooks a home when they are away. Make sure they are turning up the thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when there is not a guest in the house. Our property managers will reduce the home to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the final inspection on the day of a guest’s arrival. We also make sure the thermostats are programmable with a lock-out feature. This will prevent the guests from turning down the air conditioning lower than 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything lower than that puts your unit at risk of freezing over and could cost you $1000 to get thawed by an air conditioning company.
Preventative maintenance is very important something your property managers should be doing twice a year. A great property manager will make sure dryer vents are cleaned out, check for cracks or broken seals that could be letting cool air out, clean coils behind your refrigerator, cleaning out A/C drain lines, and that they are changing out HVAC filters consistently. All of these could factor into your high electricity bill so we recommend a checklist be set up with the property manager.
Solar panels are the last option that we recommend. If you don’t plan on keeping your vacation home for more than 8 years, this may not be a good idea for you. If this is a long-term investment, however, we definitely advise doing your research on this. We have current homeowners who actually get paid by the electric company because of how much energy they saved. Here in Florida, you can get up to 26% tax credit in Osceola County as an incentive to install solar panels. This county also currently offers PACE loans which allow the homeowner to pay back the loan in additional payments when paying their property taxes. Local solar experts confirm you will get your return on your investment in 8 years of owning the panels saying you up to $24,000 in electricity costs!
If your budget is tight, we recommend starting with the LED bulbs and a programmable thermostat. They do not have to be the fancy Nest systems. Honeywell has a simple thermostat perfect for vacation rentals. If your property manager is not actively working to help you reduce utility costs, give us a call. We’d love to share more tips and tricks that our management company has learned since 2006 managing vacation homes near Disney World.