Insulation Has Payback for Landlords

November 6, 2014 By Karen Henry

chicago-energy-manageBuilding owners who pay for infrastructure and appliance updates while tenants pay utility bills may not reap the full return on investing in energy efficiency upgrades like insulation, new furnaces, smart appliances and efficient lighting, but implementing those measures does pay off, according to an article in Midwest Energy News.

Insulation is the most important thing a building owner can install to improve energy efficiency, but oftentimes it is not realistic. In terms of energy upgrades, sealing around the windows provides a greater proportion pay-off than installing new windows.

According to a case study by Chicago-based Elevate Energy, affordable housing developer Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation in Chicago saved more than $12,000, or 19 percent, on gas bills in three of its buildings from 2011 to 2012 and 10 percent overall in utility expenses by investing in air sealing and roof cavity insulation. Because the developer and the tenants share the gas bill, both parties saved money.

Elevate Energy designed a program to educate multi-unit building owners about energy efficiency and assist them with free energy audits and advice on contractors and upgrades. Its Energy Savers program was created in 2008 as part of the MacArthur Foundation’s The Preservation Compact, an initiative focused on affordable housing. The company also does other outreach work around energy efficiency and the smart grid.

Not only do building upgrades like weatherization translate into lower energy costs for tenants, they also result in lower maintenance costs for landlords. After upgrades, tenants are more likely to pay their rent on time, and tenants are able to invest their own utility savings in other household necessities.

Colorado has a program that pulls together financing from disparate sources to fund energy efficiency improvements at low-income, multi-family properties.

Photo: Urban Chicago via Shutterstock.

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