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“Baby It’s Cold Outside…” No Seriously, My Utilities Aren’t Working

“Baby It’s Cold Outside…” No Seriously, My Utilities Aren’t Working

Winter is here, and with winter comes an array of holiday, seasonal cheer. Housewarming music fills the radio, along with every decoration imaginable. With all the hot cocoa, pine cone wreaths, and sparkly trees, comes an expectation for comfortable living. I mean “comfortable living” in the sense that your heater works on your day off, because there is no better way to ruin holiday cheer than by anchoring yourself to a single spot on the couch with a mountain of blankets so high there are people forming a line to see what the view is like from the top.

Addressing common utility issues that accompany cold weather now, rather than waiting until you're getting emergency maintenance calls at 2 a.m., ensures that your site staff gets to enjoy the holidays.

Inform the Residents

We all lived through the magic that was Frozen over the last year, but in order to avoid a similar experience for your residents, helping them understand some basic preventative maintenance can go a long way. While sub-freezing temperatures can lead to an increased risk of burst pipes, according to the Weather Channel1, 20 degrees is the magic number where the likelihood dramatically increases. But unlike Anna and the rest of Arendelle, you can teach your residents some tricks to help combat the freezing temperatures. Turning faucets on to a slow drip can help prevent pipes from freezing, and keeping thermostats at temperatures above 60 degrees, even when residents leave town, can help prevent frozen pipes as well. In addition, the longer the furnace has to run, the more consumption will increase. Increased consumption always translates into higher utility bills.  So keeping the thermostat at or around 60 can actually keep utility bills more affordable in the long run.

Implement Routine Maintenance

Another great way to ensure your property holds up during the winter is to vamp up inspections during the move in/move out process. Whether it is spring, summer, fall, or winter, inspections are an essential part of property management. This is the time to double check your units for proper insulation, healthy pipes, and functioning meters.

There are several ways you can reach out to your residents about managing their utilities. Send an email with tips on lowering heating bills. Today.com2 has some great tips for saving on your heating bill, like leaving the door open after showering (the steam will warm other parts of the house). Cooking also keeps the house warm, so do tons of baking! Also, check the weather stripping on your doors. If there needs to be a replacement, let the maintenance team know. Residents will appreciate the tips, and your managers will appreciate the stress-free environment. Remember to get the message to the residents before the holidays hit. This will allow them to get any issues fixed prior to the holidays, and your maintenance staff can enjoy the holidays with their families, rather than on the site fixing issues.

Utility Management Best Practices

Finally, to make sure you have a lovely holiday season, implement some utility management best practices. Teach residents how to lower their heating costs and keep them informed. Also, think about energy management for your property. If you are thinking about minimizing billing frustration for your residents, consider convergent billing. Residents can pay everything online, and decrease their chances of delinquencies and missed utility payments.

Winter should be enjoyed, not feared. Hopefully you will be ice skating at a professional rink, not in your back yard! Happy holidays everyone. Let the festive music begin.

 

Written By: Lauren Moran & Jon Ford

1http://www.weather.com/activities/homeandgarden/home/hometips/severeweather/pipefreeze_prevent.html

2http://www.today.com/id/16176373/ns/today-money/t/tricks-reducing-your-heating-bill/#.VFz6k9R4ptI

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