Landlords may be drawn to solar panels when considering multifamily energy-efficient best practices, but those aren’t automatically the ideal options. Implementing a series of panels for hundreds of apartments is a major undertaking when accounting for multiple electricity loads. Managing the needs of each unit is, for now, a challenge that’s a bit hard to meet for most landlords. However, solar panel technology is still relatively young, and it may become a more cost-effective solution through innovation.
In the meantime, landlords can consider other, more localized options for increasing energy efficiency. These strategies can include everything from low-cost upgrades to complex landscape design and even electric car charging stations for tenant vehicles. Every value-add multifamily upgrade a landlord makes to improve their efficiency will go a long way, simply due to the massive energy needs of apartment communities—as well as the increased interest in wallet- and planet-friendly amenities on the part of renters.
Multifamily Energy-Efficient Best Practices in Three Price Ranges
Landlords may be hesitant to execute multifamily energy-efficiency best practices because the upgraded return on investment can be difficult to measure. However, they can grow their confidence in these upgrades by working their way up from smaller, simple-to-implement options to larger, long-term projects.
Quick and Low-Cost Changes
- Start a regular filter change program: Tenants aren’t always the best about regularly changing their air conditioner filters, and this is a major missed opportunity. Replacing a clogged, dirty air filter with a clean one can lower unit energy consumption by as much as 15%. Setting up a regular day to turn in old air filters is a good way to get tenants in the habit of changing theirs frequently.
- Switch to energy-efficient bulbs: Choosing LED bulbs over traditional incandescent bulbs can save as much as 80% on energy use. Landlords don’t even need to upgrade every bulb to reap the benefits. Simply switching out the five most-used lights in an apartment can have a major effect on energy consumption.
Moderate Cost Updates for Improved Efficiency
- Use solar tubes to direct natural light: A solar tube is a method of distributing natural light to different areas. They’re installed through a ceiling and usually cost about $500 to $1000, making them much more cost-effective than skylights. They can help to reduce electricity usage by more efficiently allocating natural light.
- Make the change to energy star appliances: Energy Star is a government-created program designed to mark certified energy-efficient appliances. Many of these appliances have significantly lower energy usage than traditional models. An Energy Star dishwasher, for example, can save an estimated 3,870 gallons of water over its useful life, while a freezer is typically at least 10% more efficient than its non-certified counterpart.
Luxury Upgrades with Long-Term Benefits
- Landscape for maximum energy efficiency: Adding trees that provide shade to a property isn’t just aesthetically pleasing. It’s also smart energy planning. With shade, air conditioning condensers don’t have to work as hard to dissipate heat and to create cool air inside the home. Trees can also lower the overall temperature inside buildings by protecting them from penetrating UV rays.
- Electric car plug-in stations: California is a major hub for electric car ownership, with 7.1% of all car sales being electric between January and September of 2019. Landlords most likely will have more than a few electric car owners in their buildings, making plug-in stations a major amenity for these tenants—and a major draw for prospective tenants.
Enjoying the Benefits of an Energy-Efficient California Community
Energy conservation is such a major concern in California that there are grants and incentives for improving the consumption of resources. This is especially true for multifamily complexes, where a lot of issues with energy consumption occur. Landlords should review the available programs in their area to see if there are possible grants or tax incentives available for making energy-efficient changes.
An experienced California multifamily contractor is the best possible expert to guide landlords through the many multifamily energy-efficient best practices they can use to improve their community’s carbon footprint and overall expenses. Making smart changes like switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs, adding lower-consumption appliances, or making strategic landscaping decisions can all help to cut utility bills in half. Such changes help to attract new tenants who are also concerned about their energy consumption by giving the community a reputation of responsibility.