Six Ways Property Managers Can Make Apartment Units More Energy Efficient


Sealing Windows

We should all know the basic concepts of energy efficiency: using curlicue fluorescent lights is more efficient than incandescent, turning your A/C off when you aren’t home will save you money, etc. But do you really know how much money it will save?

As apartment owners, property managers, and maintenance staff, if you are upgrading apartment units to make them more energy efficient (even simple things like installing a programmable thermostat), it is important to know exactly what that will mean for your residents.

In this economy we know that people are always looking for opportunities to save money and you have the opportunity to champion this for your residents. Common areas, where you may have to pay for electricity, can also benefit from cost-effective efficiency upgrades that can help reduce your utility and maintenance costs.

Here are six steps apartment managers and maintenance staff can take to make their apartment units more energy efficient:

Seal Windows and Doors

Sealing windows and doors with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping is the easiest and least expensive way to save big on heating and cooling bills. The EPA estimates that appropriately weatherizing buildings can save up to 20% on your heating and cooling bills or 10% on your overall energy bill. Plus, it cuts down on drafts that make residents unhappy.

Install ENERGY STAR®-Qualified Appliances

The ENERGY STAR label was established to help consumers save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. Here are some examples of the savings you can achieve using ENERGY STAR appliances over non-qualified models:

  • Refrigerators are about 20% more efficient
  • Clothes washers are about 37% more efficient
  • Dehumidifiers are about 15% more efficient
  • Freezers are about 10% more efficient
  • Room air cleaners & purifiers are about 40% more efficient
  • Water coolers are about 45% more efficient

Replace Halogen Bulbs with CFLs or LEDs

If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR light bulb, we could save about $600 million in annual energy costs. That’s because compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) use up to 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs.

Install Programmable Thermostats

The average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills – nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. Homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings. If you choose to keep your manual thermostat, ENERGY STAR has recommendations to help you save, too.

Install High Energy Efficient Air Conditioners.

Heating and cooling costs the average homeowner about $1,000 a year – nearly half the home’s total energy bill. If an apartment unit’s central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an ENERGY STAR qualified model could cut cooling costs by 30%.

Re-lamping T12 Fixtures

Once you’ve replaced the washers and dryers in your laundry room with more efficient models, look up at the ceiling. Those long, halogen bulbs are probably the inefficient T12 model. By swapping those for T8 bulbs, you can conserve at least 20% more energy. These bulbs are also found in other common areas of an apartment property as well as parking garages. To illustrate the potential savings, some of HD Supply Facilities Maintenance’s large distribution centers that converted to energy efficient T8 bulbs are saving nearly $100,000 annually.

Property Managers: What Steps Are You Taking?

What steps are you taking at your apartment properties to improve energy efficiency and lower utility costs? Do you think you can charge higher rents if you provide your residents with lower utility costs? Share them in the comment section below.

This post is based on the article “Energy Conservation Tips” originally published on on May 31, 2011.


Sustainability Manager, HD Supply Facilities Maintenance

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Evan Matzen is a LEED® Accredited Professional with over 8 years of industry experience. He is currently the Sustainability Manager at HD Supply, Facilities Maintenance and has worked on energy-efficiency, carbon-offset, and renewable-energy projects throughout the country. He blogs about sustainability and going green at Green Blogic.

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