The majority of us at one point in our lives have lived in an apartment for one reason or another―be it for school, relocation, or finances―whatever the reason, you may reflect on that experience as good, bad or neutral. More on this in a bit.
I recently co-presented a webinar with John Forde, a business manager at Puget Sound Energy (“PSE”) titled “Overcoming Hurdles to Multifamily Energy Efficiency Programs.” The webinar discussed PSE’s desire and challenges to creating a comprehensive program designed to maximize energy savings for apartment dwellers and increase customer participation. The goal of the program is to help renters save money on their utility bills and serve property managers interested in efficiency upgrades.
Now think back to your apartment experience…was your home warm and cozy or was it drafty and poorly lit? Tenant comfort and safety is certainly paramount to tenant retention and this topic was one of the key takeaways discussed during the webinar. What we’ve learned is that property manager will participate in energy efficiency programs if the utility makes it easy and convenient.
During the webinar, participants asked many great questions about PSE’s programs and costs to participate. We shared that the first step to any efficiency upgrade is to do a building assessment, which is provided by PSE at no charge to property owners. The assessment provides a snapshot of the building’s needs and opportunities. PSE provides building owners incentives to help with many of the typical upgrades. For example, PSE offers $0.75 per square foot for insulation and $6 to $8 per square foot for windows. Insulation is one of the most effective measures that can be installed at little or no cost to the owner. The incentive for windows covers about one third of the cost for new windows. When combined the investment in overall energy efficiency upgrades is very attractive. Additional upgrades such as common area lighting is a popular add-on as any savings go directly to the owner since they pay the utility bill.
Ecova has partnered with PSE since 2006 to implement their successful Multifamily Retrofit Program. This important program has continuously improved over the years through careful contractor management and the addition of new measures, such as advanced powers strips and efficient appliances. The program seeks to squeeze out as much savings as possible from every apartment unit served.
Perhaps you no longer live in an apartment, but you may have utility customers who do. Tenants deserve the right to benefit from energy savings improvements, just like homeowners. And, there are many property owners out there who value the benefit of investing in their property―they just need to know where to start!