Energy-Efficiency Tips for Property Managers
Start with a plan
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, simple insulation and air sealing techniques can reduce a home’s heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent. This is not only beneficial for a tenant’s utilities budget, but also good news for a property manager’s as well. When deciding to make your facility more energy efficient, even the smallest updates can save money on potential property maintenance costs, as well as monthly utilities bills.
“Doing these types of remedial repairs is what increases the value of the property and the quality of the tenant,” says James Tungsvik, MPM, RMP, a member of the national board of directors at the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM).
But, how do you know which improvements are right for your property? The first step in any retrofit plan is to conduct an energy audit. It’s important to know exactly where your money is going before you decide which systems to replace. This can be simply done by examining past bills and looking for seasonal trends, or spikes, in costs.
“Just conducting an energy audit typically results in energy savings of 15 percent per year,” says George Elvin, a professor of architecture at Ball State University.
Once you have conducted your audit, consider these retrofits for your property:
With the rising costs of energy, it’s important to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. That’s why installing weatherstripping is one of the most economical decisions you can make in your sustainable retrofit plan. Weatherstripping doors and caulking windows ensures there is no space for air to escape and can help property managers save on monthly bills.
These repairs range from simple DIY improvements, to more involved installations. Either way, weatherstripping is a low-budget option that can save property managers at least 15 percent in energy costs each year. Spending approximately $500 upfront for effective weatherstripping can offer a 50 percent return on investment in the first year alone. That means you will be able to see savings by year two.
Depending on the amount of sealing and insulating necessary for your windows, ducts and doors, there are many weatherstripping options to choose from. Some of the more popular choices include caulks, adhesive foam insulation and rubber doorstops.
If you’re looking to go beyond simple remedies to assure additional energy savings, installing sun-shielding blinds or window shades is a logical next step. This option will drastically reduce heating and cooling costs and also has the added bonus of being an attractive addition to your facility. If you’re in a warmer climate, consider shading windows from the outside to stop the sun’s heat before it enters the building. The opposite is true of those living in a cooler climate, where you’d want to keep heat from escaping through the glass.
Though this is a more expensive retrofit—blinds can range upward of $200, it can have a surprisingly early ROI, depending on climate and your audit. But according to Tungsvik, payoffs for these aesthetic retrofits can come in a very different way:
“Bigger payoffs come over time, you can’t always put your hand on it,” he says. “[Property mangers] can rent upgrades quicker, owners get to see less time on the market, and you’ll have better quality tenants.”
Another important aesthetic improvement that is also a growing trend with rental properties is the installation of energy-efficient windows. According to Elvin, almost $10 billion worth of energy is lost every year due to inefficient windows. The new energy-efficient models have undergone significant improvements to ensure less air leakage, warmer window surfaces and decreased condensation.
Though this is a relatively big-ticket item, the payoff is equally as great. Purchasing Energy Star-certified windows can save as much as $400 a year when replacing former single-pane windows.
In addition to saving money on utility bills, there are many practical benefits to installing new windows. Not only will the majority of energy-efficient windows cut down on drafts and overheating, but many come equipped with a protective coating to protect furniture and valuables from harmful ultraviolet light.
Promoting your property
Robert Owens, co-founder and president/CEO of O,R&L Facility Services says there are long-term financial gains when a property manager makes the switch to a green management program. Operating expenses will minimize, and buildings committed to an energy-efficient approach will be “seen as progressive and responsible members or the community that will have lasting public relations and building marketing benefits,” says Owens.
However, it’s not possible to be a green leader in your community without turning to the right professionals for help. Use certified engineers and HVAC technicians that are familiar with the industry’s new energy management software systems and best practices, and can make educated decisions about upgrading your facility. Putting the right amount of effort and attention into these upgrades ensures your property benefits for years to come.
“Buildings use 40 percent of our nation’s energy, and energy-efficiency retrofits are our No. 1 weapon for fighting carbon emissions and global climate change while also saving a whole lot of money,” says Elvin.