Property Management and Energy Efficiency

Property Management and Energy Efficiency

If you want your building to be energy efficient, you need to start with responsible energy usage. Energy costs can make up almost a third of your total running costs; keeping them under control is an important part of good property management.

Owners of commercial properties can incur huge energy costs, but that’s not the only reason why reducing energy consumption is essential in this day and age. As a property manager, you want to make full use of all the energy efficiency opportunities available for the sake of the planet as well as your budget.

What is the best way to start saving energy?

Since energy usage is such a major part of your operating expenses, you need to look at all the factors influencing it. These include the lighting in your building, along with the cooling and heating systems. Improving energy efficiency means looking at some creative ways to counter those rising energy costs.

Property Management and Energy Efficiency

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Property Management and Energy Efficiency

Are you wondering how to cut down on energy costs? The steep energy prices these days certainly give cause to worry about energy management.

Fortunately, there are several ways to save energy around your property. These range from a few minor tweaks to more major projects that require some investment.

For reducing energy consumption all around, property managers and owners should consider the following possible solutions.

1. Invest in a more efficient lighting system.

Invest in a more efficient lighting system.

A large part of your total energy consumption is probably in the lighting. Heating and cooling might go up and down according to the season, but everyone needs electric lights during the day, and especially at night.

Most buildings have at lights that are switched on at all times. For apartment buildings, you need to have artificial lighting at night so that people can see the stairs and generally navigate their way around. If you rent out a house, the tenants will most likely keep a light on at night for security purposes.

While it may not always be possible to reduce the number of lights or their usage, it is possible to get new equipment, such as green fixtures or lamps. Occupancy sensors can also be a good idea. With sensors, the lights will only be switched on if there’s someone around to use them.

What if a system overhaul is not in the budget?

If such projects are too expensive right now, going for energy-efficient LED bulbs is a good start. These have the following advantages:

  • They are good for saving energy, as they use less electricity than incandescent bulbs.
  • Their material is mostly epoxy lenses, which are much more break-resistant and durable than other bulb types.
  • They have a long lifespan of around 30,000 to 50,000 hours for high-quality LED lights. (Incandescent bulbs only last up to 1,000 hours on average, while compact fluorescent lights last a maximum of 10,000 hours).

When making changes to the lighting system, property managers or your property management company should make sure to use high-quality LED bulbs. Those that have an Energy Star certification are probably the best options around.

2. Conduct a thorough data analysis.

Conduct a thorough data analysis.

To understand your energy use in commercial buildings, it is important to look at the energy usage patterns. An energy audit can help property managers or property management companies to better understand where and when energy use takes place in their buildings.

Understanding these patterns can lead to a more effective reduction in energy use and a more energy-efficient system all around.

An energy audit might show you several problem areas. This can help you decide where to start working on energy-efficient solutions.

Here’s what you can add to your property management operations:

  1. a) See if it’s possible to reduce the lighting load, especially for common areas that already get a lot of natural light.
  2. b) Use occupancy sensors, lighting controls and daylight dimmers in places like offices, break rooms, bathrooms, receptions areas and gyms.
  3. c) Install lights and HVAC systems with Energy Star certifications.
  4. d) Increase energy efficiency by putting in more efficient models for ice machines.
  5. e) Have smart power strips for reducing phantom energy loads from idle equipment like printers or computers.
  6. f) Add variable-frequency drives to your HVAC systems and motors for powering pumps and fans. Again, Energy Star–certified models may be the best way to go.
  7. g) Schedule regular tune-up services for HVAC systems.
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3. Make energy efficiency easier for residents.

Make energy efficiency easier for residents

Property managers and property management companies can also ask tenants and residents to make a contribution for higher energy efficiency. Many tenants will be happy to help in this regard, but they also need the proper tools for good energy management. Even a few small changes will make a significant difference.

What You Can Do to Achieve Easier Energy Efficiency

If you install ceiling fans in some rooms, residents won’t always have to lower the thermostat or turn on the air conditioning. You can also think about getting a programmable thermostat with Energy Star certifications.

In the kitchen, appliances with high Energy Star ratings will also help to lower the overall energy bill.

Just a few other examples include:

  1. A. Frequently changing the air filters in heating and cooling systems
  2. B. Putting in energy-efficient blinds or energy-efficient curtains
  3. C. Installing solar panels, even if it’s just one outdoor light at a time
  4. D. Educating renters about proper energy management on a regular basis
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4. Attract green renters.

Attract green renters

When you gear property management toward higher energy efficiency, new types of tenants might come in. A lot of millennials and later generations now place importance on leading a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. If they can find an apartment or house with Energy Star–certified appliances and other responsible additions, the likelihood of them signing a lease goes up.

What’s more, when you attract these kinds of renters, they’ll be much more likely to stay active in achieving the energy efficiency goal. They’ll use the Energy Star products correctly, and they might even bring in some of their own.

How to Help Out a Green Renter

We’ve already talked about how you can make it easier for all renters to contribute toward proper energy management.

For renters who are already attracted to this practice, property managers can help by giving them ideas on how to contribute toward energy efficiency. You can also consider giving perks to those tenants who are consistently careful about energy efficiency.

Some examples include designated parking spaces, a gift basket, or even a more flexible rent rate. If they want an Energy Star–certified appliance, you may want to help out in that regard as well.

5. Minimize materials that make energy efficiency difficult.

Minimize materials that make energy efficiency difficult

A lot of conventional buildings use high-energy materials, such as glass, cement, steel and bricks. These are sturdy materials, but they’re not very helpful for enhancing energy efficiency.

If you have the option to make a new structure at any point, consider going for low-energy alternatives, like soil-cement blocks/rammed earth, steam-cured mud blocks, burnt clay bricks, soil, cement blocks, stone, or hollow concrete blocks.

How can updated building technology help in property management?

The most recent building technology can also assist property managers in enhancing energy efficiency. For example, if the building is in an area with extreme temperatures, lighter and more flexible walls will help to decrease the final bill. This is because they provide thermal separation more efficiently than more traditional materials.

Property Management and Energy Efficiency

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6. Check out the building or home’s entrances.

Check out the building or home’s entrances

Even if you go for Energy Star–certified products and do everything else right, simple things like the entrance of a building could put great strain on energy use.

Doorways are where heat and cold air will leak out the most, especially since people have to open them on a regular basis, no matter what the weather is like.

A high-tech entrance door can be the way toward energy efficiency in such cases. Such technology can cut down on CO2 emissions, is cost-effective, and is more durable than the traditional designs.

Your property management workers may also advise installing air curtains instead of vestibules. An air curtain will minimize air coming in from the outside. It’s also a safer option in the event of emergency evacuation, keeps insects out, and saves space.

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The Takeaway

To know just what steps to take for reducing your energy costs and energy consumption, you may have to take a step back first. Getting an energy audit is a great place to start, especially when it comes to prioritizing the first actions.

Managing buildings and renting out apartments can be very lucrative, but only if you manage their operating costs correctly. For this to happen and to stay responsible towards the environment, investing some time and money in energy management is necessary.

Enhancing your systems and making them more energy efficient is not just about saving or whittling down costs. The new technology will actually increase the market appeal of your buildings. It could bring in more tenants and even appeal to demographics that have higher spending power.

Energy-efficient manufactured homes are very much in demand now. You just might tap into that market at the right time.

Here’s hoping that you can manage to improve energy efficiency in many ways and reduce those troublesome costs. A bit of energy management might be all it takes to stay within budget. So start looking around for any possible changes today!

Justin Becker is a property owner in the state of Michigan and has a passion for managing communities. He owns apartment complexes and mobile home communities, and has been writing his own blogs for his properties for several years.