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Turn over is very expensive.  One sure fire way to get people to move out of your Oklahoma City rental property is to have a poorly insulated home with high utility bills.

This article has nine tips for making your OKC rental properties as energy efficient as possible.  

It’s one in a series of article about improvements to your OKC rental properties.  Here are the other articles:

Keeping the Weather out of Your OKC Rental Property

Spotting Construction Pitfalls for OKC Rental Properties

Cosmetic Upgrades to Your Oklahoma City Rental Property

Kitchen and Bathroom Upgrades for Your OKC Renal Property

1) Older frame houses often have too many windows which create pathways to let warm air into your house in the summer, and cold air into your house in the winter.

For example, some bedrooms might have 5 or 6 of the old wood-frame windows.  It makes good sense to eliminate unneeded drafty windows. Five or six windows can become one or two windows, and not be any less functional by losing those windows. And, by all means replace multiple old frame windows with only one new vinyl double-pain window.  And, insulate behind the walls where you have eliminated windows.

2) Eliminate Unnecessary Doors.

You only need a front door and a back door according to city code.  Eliminate extra doors (that will also result in fewer doors that you need to maintain and weatherize).

3) When you install a window unit air conditioner in a window, seal up the gaps.

Installing window unit AC units creates a lot of pathways to outside air.  Many times, it’s better to eliminate the window where you plan to install the window unit. Frame it so you can install a window unit instead of just lifting the window to install it.

4) Attics should have enough insulation to at least cover up studs (about 5 inches).

Adequate insulation in the attic is the first base to cover when it comes to weatherization.  A 1,000 square foot house with no insulation will need about 25 bags of insulation blown in.

5) Sometimes it makes more sense to go ahead and gut a house.

One thing to check is if the exterior walls are insulated.  If they are not, you may want to go ahead and gut the property (remove all the sheetrock or lath and plaster) so you can insulate exterior walls if they are not insulated.

When you have a poorly insulated frame home (very common for older homes that haven’t been upgraded), you have an opportunity to fix that problem if you decide to install vinyl siding.  In that case, you should install a vapor barrier, called “house wrap”.  This is a good way to seal places where air can get through tiny cracks in the wall.  In addition, you can add Styrofoam insulation sheets which also help insulate.  Just be sure the contractor does the installation in the correct way with the vapor barrier under the Styrofoam.

6) If you are doubt, replace old frame windows.

New double-pane windows are so much nicer than old frame windows.  They will save your tenant so much money on their utility bills.  I’ve never regretted changing to new windows.

If it’s an older home, chances are that the openings left once the old windows are removed won’t exactly match up with the sizes in stock you can get at Lowes or Home Depot.  You can have them special ordered to custom sized, but I’ve found that most times it’s better to just have your contractor to frame in around a stock size that’s close to size you need.

7) Once a year have a central heat and air system serviced.

There are several key items for the service guy to check which will have a bearing on the utility bills.  The first is making sure the air filter is clean.  If it’s caked with dirt and grim, you’ll need to have the coils cleaned.  They will do wonders for the air flow.

They should also inspect duct work in the attic because the duct work can come apart. You can also get squirrels that chew through them. In either case, air will be moving into the attic and not into the house. In addition, if a tenant complaining about a high heating bill or a cold house, this should be one of the first things that they check.

8) Have your maintenance guy do a search and destroy mission with weather stripping and caulk.

Look for daylight around doors. Eliminate those cracks with weather-stripping.  Go around to all the window and exterior door frames and caulk all the gaps.

9) Central heat and air equipment doesn’t last forever.  The older it is, the less energy efficient.

If you have the original unit in a 1970’s or 1980’s house, have your heat and air guy check out the unit. The heat exchangers are prone to going bad. When they do, it presents a carbon monoxide poisoning risk to your tenants. You may also be paying out the nose for service calls to keep the unit running. Sometimes the best thing is to just bite the bullet, replace the unit, and get on down the road.

Correcting these problems may not boost the monthly rental rate much, but it can have a dramatic effect on the vacancy of the property because tenants won’t be moving due to high utility bills.  That will will boost your net income.