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Beat the Heat: Summer Energy Upgrades to Make Right Now

Summer Energy Upgrades
June 2018

In many parts of the country, warm weather is on its way if it hasn’t already settled in.

With the outdoors heating up, now is the time for property managers to focus on cooling units down without putting strain on budgets or HVAC systems. From smart thermostats to easy envelope sealants, summer energy upgrades not only help residents with their bills, they also reduce power usage and improve property sustainability.

In fact, according to a sustainability study, about 73 percent of millennials are willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings. When properly marketed, these upgrades can help improve the value of your property, leading to increased rents and better success attracting new residents.

Best of all, many of the upgrades are simple, affordable and don’t require major overhauls or remodels.

Step 1 Seal the Envelope Deal

Did you know properly sealing your property could have a big effect on energy bills? Before summer hits full blaze, have maintenance survey the property and ensure it is properly insulated and sealed, especially if it is an older location.

Start with the attic: Having the correct amount of attic insulation is crucial to controlling heating and cooling costs. A well-insulated attic keeps the cold air in and the warm air out, reducing the need for air conditioning.

Take a moment to have your maintenance team review the building’s insulation: If it is rated under R 30, you will need to look at new insulation options such as Owens Corning Atticat expanding blow-in fiberglass. Don’t forget to check other sources of leaked air such as doors, windows and siding for cracks and holes.

Drafts and gaps can significantly increase utility bills. Three easy solutions to fill air seals and insulate small gaps include weather stripping, caulking and expanding foam sealants.

Maintenance team pressed for time? Great Stuff Sealant fills in gaps and dries in less than an hour, allowing your team to install an airtight seal quickly. Also, adding weather seals to doors is a great way to keep the hot air out by blocking drafts and dust.

Step 2 Efficiency—It’s Electric!

If you have yet to consider installing programmable thermostats, this summer is the perfect time to look at smart upgrades that allow residents to adjust the temperature from smartphones or other devices. The newest thermostats can even help minimize guesswork by adjusting themselves based on occupancy, weather and habits of each resident. The Nest Learning Thermostat, for example, tracks the lifestyle patterns of residents to cut down on costs when they are out of the apartment. It saves an average of 12 percent on heating and 15 percent on cooling bills, and even learns what temperatures you like and adjusts itself.

Similar to smart thermostats, energy-efficient appliances can significantly affect power bills during both the summer and winter months. Look for ENERGY STAR-certified options when considering dishwashers, refrigerators and washers/dryers. Among apartments that saw rent increases in 2016, these types of upgrades accounted for 16 percent of total revenue enhancement, according to the NAA’s “Adding Value in the Age of Amenities Wars” study.

Step 3 Lean Toward LED Lighting

Has your property taken advantage of LED for lighting yet? If not, it’s time to make the switch. LEDs use 84 percent less energy per bulb versus traditional incandescent bulbs. Not only do LED bulbs save energy, they also last 25 times longer and are often cooler than traditional bulbs, reducing pressure on HVAC systems. Take the time to plan for a full conversion to LEDs, balancing initial investments with the approximate time each bulb takes to pay itself off.

On the operations side, making these upgrades may even extend time between costly repairs and prolong the life of apartments. Be sure to educate both residents and maintenance teams on how the new devices work and the potential impact on their electricity bills to improve satisfaction among current and prospective residents.

Now that you’ve completed the upgrades, feature them in your marketing materials and sales training to showcase the positive investments you have made in the property. Consumers recognize smart thermostats and ENERGY STAR-certified appliances. These upgrades may be the feather that tips the scales in your favor when it comes down to the property’s details and perks.

Energy efficiency is a win for all. While residents enjoy lower cooling bills in the summer and heating bills in the winter, you will enjoy the benefits of improved building efficiencies, lower maintenance costs and marketing bonuses for your environmentally friendly property.