Month: July, 2016

29 Jul

When Energy Hits Your Topline Revenue

Leyna O'Neill energy management, tenants 0 Comments

moving
The value of energy management is often measured in its impact on expenses – how much money are you spending on gas and electric supply, what is the price of your boiler replacement, how much will a solar installation save you in the long run? But for multifamily real estate owners, the value of energy management reaches well beyond the expense side of your P&L into topline revenue.

Keeping occupancy and rents high is one of your core business objectives. But all it takes is one energy-related snafu to send residents running. Energy management – the least talked about most important secret to tenant retention.

Below are some of the most common energy-related frustrations that can cause a good resident to utter those feared four words – “It’s time to move”. Don’t worry, we’ve also included tips for avoiding these sticky situations.

Surprise Costs

While most residents choose an apartment based upon the base rent, they can get shocked (and steamed) when they start receiving their energy and water bills. Residents may not fully appreciate energy-efficient appliances on the day they move in, but the real cost of inefficient ones shows up in their utility bills, and reduces the chance that they will renew their leases.

Ratio Utility Billing Systems (“RUBS”), may seem like an attractive option for owners who wish to bill residents for utility usage without the costs of submetering.  However, when residents are paying a small percentage of the whole property’s usage, their individual actions have a nominal impact on how much they pay. This means that it is incumbent upon you as the owner to implement energy and water efficiency improvements property-wide, or face the ire of residents when renewal time comes around.

Pro Tip: Install energy efficient appliances, clearly communicate billing procedures with residents, consider energy procurement options to increase control and stability over utility prices.

Temperature Chaos

Even renters want to feel like they own their spaces. A big part of that is having their apartments at temperatures that are comfortable for them. But that is often not the case. The building systems that directly impact resident comfort – heating, cooling, ventilation – are often dependent upon ownership’s energy management strategy. There’s not much a resident can do when the apartment feels tropical in December because of an imbalanced steam system. So they open the windows, for awhile. Some people accept and deal with the energy blunders, but many don’t.

Pro Tip: Schedule an energy audit, followed by retrocommissioning, to make sure systems are properly balanced and functioning optimally. This involves a lot more than just tuning the boiler or changing an air conditioner filter – the whole system needs to be checked and tuned to ensure that it can deliver consistent comfort.  

Pressure Problems

For many people, that nice hot shower in the morning really sets the tone for the day… unless of course the hot water never comes on, the temperature swings wildly between hot and cold, or the pressure makes it feel more like a sprinkle than a shower. For the resident, the worst part is that there’s nothing they can do. As an owner or operator, you have the power to bring in an expert to solve what can be a thorny problem with a number of different possible causes.  But you should do it before it’s too late and your tenants are already out the door for the last time.

Pro Tip: There are a lot of things that go into delivering a nice hot shower, including the boiler itself, the recirculation pump, the tempering valve, the showerhead, the water booster pump and the pipe condition and configuration.  You’ll need an expert to analyze the system, diagnose the problem and propose a solution.  
It’s tough to trace any one move-out to an energy or water management problem but when it comes to multifamily, it’s clear that comfort is paramount and energy and water are directly related to some of the most notorious comfort issues. The good news is that these are solvable problems if you bring in an expert who knows what to look for. Just by acknowledging them you’ll show your residents that their comfort and quality of life is important to you. Let the renewals begin!

27 Jul

Heat Wave Blog Round Up

Leyna O'Neill Uncategorized 0 Comments

blog-round-up

The sweltering summer shows no signs of slowing down both in temperatures and headlines. We’ve compiled some of our favorite blogs covering many aspects of the heat wave including price spikes, future forecasts, the impact of air conditioning, boosts in solar, and even historic cooling methods. Check ’em out!

California Powers 6 Million Homes With Solar Energy, Slays Record

[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] An aerial photograph of the Solar One Energy Plant in the Mojave Desert Near Dagget California

Believe it or not this heat wave is having at least one positive effect. Huffington Post reports that California solar panels hit a new record for electricity produced, 8,030 megawatts to be exact. And that’s just for large solar plants. Read the full article on Huffington Post here.

The Global Environmental Impact of Air Conditioning is Big and Will Get Even Bigger

quartz-air-conditioning.jpg

The world loves air conditioning. And now, more than ever before, people can afford to have one or several units in their homes. But what does this mean for the global demand for electricity to power those air conditioners? Quartz explores this question in depth. Read the full article here.

New York City Electricity Spot Price Spikes by 1,000%

the-merkle

The heat wave is not confined to outdoor temperatures. A particularly hot streak took its toll on the New York City electricity spot price per megawatt hour which reached $1,042, up from the average price of $94. Electricity bills were not directly affected but the price jump is definitely something to keep an eye on. Read more here.

How Houses Were Cooled Before Air Conditioning

curbed

Air conditioning is a relatively modern invention but heat has always been a problem. How did people deal with it before electricity? Curbed goes way back to explain some of the more creative ways to beat the heat. Read the full article here.

Get Used to These Extreme Summer Heat Waves

huff-post

We’re already on track to surpass the record breaking temperatures of 2015 and scientists says unless we reduce our fossil fuel consumption, we’re looking at the new normal. “If we continue with business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels, and warm the planet by [3 degrees Celsius] by the end of this century, then what we today call ‘extreme heat’ we will instead call ‘mid-summer'”. Read the full article on Huffington Post.