A Fall Newsletter for Tenants


Fall is swiftly approaching, a little prematurely in my neck of the woods, and everyone’s got their windows closed to stave off that first turning on of the furnace. Everyone except for my upstairs tenants, that is. I can hear the forced air furnace going on, but I can see from the outside that their storm windows are wide open. I think I remember them mentioning how high their heating bills were in their last place, maybe it wasn’t entirely the fault of the old furnace…

Every fall I leave my tenants a list of things to keep in mind for the heating season. It’s not a formal newsletter per say, but performs the same function. Here’s what mine consists of:

WINDOWS

  • Make sure that all storm windows are closed (the old wood sash windows don’t do much good as far as keeping the cold out).
  • I recommend putting the 3m plastic film over the largest windows, and especially those near the couch, bed, etc., where you’ll feel drafts the most, as well as on the north wall.
  • For new vinyl double-hung windows — make sure they’re locked to keep drafts out. You may need to push up on the upper sash to get them to lock properly.

DOORS

  • Please keep all doors going to porches, patios, basement, etc. closed tightly to keep out drafts.

HEATING

  • The furnace is ready to go, but do make sure that all of the vents (on the ceiling) are open.
  • In order to enjoy the same low heating bills as last year’s tenants, you’ll need to set up a schedule on the programmable thermostat — I set mine to 55 while I’m at work during the day, and 60 while I’m sleeping
  • You may also want to call the gas company and get on their budget plan, if you aren’t already — this will keep your gas bills at an even amount year-round.
  • If you’re away for an extended period of time during the heating season, never turn the furnace to “off” or any lower than 55 degrees (otherwise there could be problems with frozen pipes, etc.)

I take care of replacing the furnace filters in my tenants’ furnace myself (I’d rather not have them opening it up).

Why give them all of this information, especially when so much of it seems to be common sense?One, because my past experience tells me that a lot of my renters haven’t paid for heat before, and aren’t familiar with how to conserve it. Two, because I live downstairs, and if they leave their apartment wide open and drafty, some of my heat will be leaving the house through their apartment too. And Three, I’d rather give them this information now than have them come to me mid-January complaining of high heating bills and/or a drafty apartment. One year this happened to me, and the tenants had actually put the 3m plastic film over their windows without bothering to close the storm windows first! Another year, I got a complaint that the back bedroom was always warm, but the rest of the apartment was freezing — turns out that they were running a space heater in the back bedroom, which also happens to be where the thermostat was located… so of course the rest of the apartment was cold, since the thermostat thought that the whole apartment was the same temperature as that room… (I don’t mention this scenario to my tenants, however, because I’d rather not encourage the use of a space heater.)


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