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Tracking Your Property’s Utility Usage

Utility costs are a big expense for your renters and potentially a big headache for you. For this reason, it’s a good idea to try tracking your property’s utility usage to help get a better handle on what’s going on with your property.

But how and why would you track utility usage? What are the big things it can do? How do you start in the first place? Read on to find out more.

Copy information into a spreadsheet

The most basic method is to take the numbers given in the bills and copy it into a spreadsheet. The amount used, the cost per unit, total cost and anything else included on the bill is fair game for this.

Install energy meters

If there’s already a meter installed, which probably is for billing purposes, you can just take readings off of that. This allows you to check more frequently than just monthly when the bills come in, but will provide roughly the same information.

Get automated tools for tracking usage

If you can get the right tools, you may not need to handle much data entry yourself. With a good automated system, it can automatically add data to any spreadsheets that you’re using or even provide its own dashboard for looking at the data. This can make it so much easier to track the data, meaning you just have to figure out how to interpret it rather than getting the data yourself.

Whatever you choose, now you have a system to track utility usage. But once you have the data, what do you do with it? Here are some ideas:

Can show renters how much they pay for utilities

No two renters will use the same amount of electricity/gas/water, but the variation isn’t likely to be too high. If you have this data, when a prospective resident is asking you how much utilities are going to cost, you can give them a good answer. Make sure to give the caveats that this is based on the previous resident’s usage, but it should be a pretty good baseline to start from.

Use this to inform future improvements

Look into what you have running in the property and using up the utilities. Is an old heater using too much gas? Does the dishwasher use too much water? What about the electricity use of the refrigerator? How about new insulation in the building to make there less need for as much heating or cooling? These improvements will lower utility costs and high efficiency appliances are a great selling point. If you need to make improvements, this gives you a great place to start.

Help decide if you or the tenant will pay for utilities

Do you want to include utilities in the cost of rent to entice residents? Knowing how much is used will help you be able to make an educated decision about whether or not to do it.

By tracking your property’s utility usage, you’ll be more informed about what’s going on and better able to manage it. It may seem like a lot to do, but it’ll help you make such better management decisions that it’s very worth your time.

Categories: Landlords

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About the Author
The managing editor of Apartment Guide and rent.com, Brian Carberry has more than 10 years’ experience as a content creator and award-winning journalist. Brian’s work has been featured on CNN, Search Engine Land, Randstad and a number of other organizations around the world. In his free time, Brian enjoys sports, cooking and debating the correct pronunciation of “gif.”