While few places in the US require landlords to maintain central air conditioning systems for their rental properties, heating is another matter. Cold weather can be potentially life-threatening, so property owners must install and maintain heating systems for their tenants. Of course, the best heating system for a rental property won't necessarily be the same as the best system for an owner-occupied home.
Whether you're refurbishing a property so that you can rent it out or need to replace an existing system in a current rental property, you can do a few things to ensure your tenants' safety and keep your costs under control. These three tips will help you select the best heating system for your unique needs.
1. Balance Cost vs. Reliability
If you're installing a new heating system in your home, you might want a unit with all the bells and whistles. On the other hand, you're probably more concerned about cost when installing a new heating system in a rental unit. While you may not need to spring for a high-efficiency modulating burner furnace, you won't want to skimp too much.
Instead, work with a heating contractor to select an economy model from a reliable and well-known brand. These units won't have the efficiency or the high-end features of costlier units, but they will be dependable and long-lasting. As a result, your tenants will remain comfortable all winter long, and you'll save money by avoiding future repairs and emergency heating calls.
2. Consider Standard Efficiency Models
For homes that use natural gas, propane, or oil-burning furnaces, consider efficiency carefully. Higher efficiency models can save money on utility bills, but more efficiency alone won't mean improved comfort or reliability. In other words, a standard efficiency model won't have any issues keeping your tenants comfortable throughout even the coldest winters.
Standard efficiency models also boast a minimum of 80% AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency). This rating is much higher than older furnaces, so upgrading from a very old model will still provide a substantial efficiency boost. By sticking with a standard efficiency furnace, you can get a dependable unit for a much lower cost.
3. Don't Undersize
Choosing a standard-efficiency furnace from an economy line can help cut costs, but you shouldn't plan to save any money on sizing. Have a heating contractor perform a detailed load calculation and stick to their recommended BTUs. While a smaller furnace will save you money upfront, it will cost far more in the long run since it will need to work harder and will likely suffer premature failures.
Ultimately, the best way to choose an efficient, reliable, and affordable unit is to work closely with a heating contractor. An experienced contractor can recommend a furnace that can save you money without sacrificing reliability or performance, ensuring that future repair bills don't reduce the profitability of your rental units.
Contact a heating contractor near you to learn more.
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