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The current state of the economy, an influx of younger renters, and stricter mortgage lending standards have all contributed to a significant increase in the rental population. In fact, The Wall Street Journal states that the 5.2% national vacancy rate, reported in the final quarter of 2011, is the lowest it has been in ten years. Find out why the recovering multifamily market makes now the prime time to upgrade the energy efficiency of your multifamily property.

While the recent influx in renters is certainly a positive thing for the multifamily property industry, new residents can quickly become costly if they are using utilities irresponsibly or avoid reporting maintenance issues. Utility submetering is one energy efficient practice that helps property owners to lower operating costs, and encourages residents to conserve as a way to save money on their utility bills. Since residents become financially responsible for their energy usage through utility submetering, they are more inclined to conserve energy and are often quicker to report any maintenance issues that arise. Tax incentives and rebates for submetering can also help to lessen installation costs for property owners.

When residents are responsible for paying their own utility costs, they will undoubtedly seek multifamily properties that offer energy efficient appliances. Finance-commerce.com explains that aside from utility submetering, property owners are also installing energy efficient HVAC and plumbing systems, doors, windows, insulation, and Energy Star rated appliances to appeal to residents. Many developers have even found success in converting and renting out unsold condo units that are equipped with energy efficient appliances. These rentals appeal to young families that looking are looking to live in a space that feels more like a home, without making the jump to actually purchase one.

Energy Star and LEED certifications are two additional ways for multifamily properties to stand apart from their competition and advertise their commitment to energy efficiency. Both of these certifications require energy benchmarking and auditing procedures along with specific categories that multifamily properties must adhere to in order to gain certification.

To learn more about how utility submetering can benefit your property and to schedule a free property audit, feel free to contact us toll-free at1-800-256-9826.

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Green building has become the rule rather than the exception in the multifamily industry. Many states recognize this fact and have begun offering rebate programs to property owners that are looking to conserve energy through utility submetering and other energy efficient upgrades. Is your organization aware of the rebate programs available in your state?

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has created a statewide Energy Smart Multifamily Performance Program that provides financial support to property owners looking implement energy efficient upgrades in new construction and existing multifamily buildings. They have also created the Electric Reduction in Master Metered Buildings Program, which is specifically geared towards utility submetering. Owners of master metered properties with five or more units can visit the NYSERDA website to fill out an application for the program. If approved, this program can save multifamily owners up to 50% off the cost of a submetering system.

The California Multifamily Energy Efficiency Rebate Program (MEERP) is another statewide program that has been a successful in offering energy efficient rebates. The collaboration between the state’s four major utility companies allow property owners of multifamily properties to receive rebates on energy efficient upgrades ranging from lighting and insulation to window and HVAC improvements.

The Maine State Housing Authority’s takes a different approach to providing energy funding through their Multifamily Home Energy Loan Program. This program offers low interest loans for multifamily housing improvements interested in taking on energy efficient projects. The program requires borrowers to have an energy audit and then prepare a plan to address deficiencies.

For a full list of opportunities available in your state, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) website, or type your property information into the DSIRE search tool on our sidebar.

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In our previous WaterWatch and Learn articles, we have outlined electric, gas, and water conservation techniques that residents living in submetered units can utilize as a way to decrease their utility bills. In this installment, we explore the different ways to educate your residents about these conservation techniques.

Multi-Housing News recently surveyed residents across the country on what they would like to see improved in their rental experiences, and increased online services were requested across the board. Residents want to have the option to pay their rent, utility bills, and access service requests online. They would also rather receive property updates via email or through a property’s website portal. Offering conservation techniques online is a key way to ensure that residents can have their questions answered quickly, at any time of the day or night.

Aside from the convenience factor, online marketing and education tools are a greener than paper pamphlets or fliers. An email newsletter that changes seasonally via popular providers such as Constant Contact, IContact, or MailChimp.com can include conservation tips alongside other property news and events. Social media accounts another paperless way to communicate with residents about conservation, as long as they are frequently updated.

There are also a variety of outside websites that properties can direct their residents to for conservation education. Properties that submeter with WaterWatch Corporation can direct their residents to mywaterwatchbill.com, which offers water, gas, and electric conservation techniques along with a resident payment portal. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a wide range of conservation tips on their Energy Savers website. CSG Network also offers a helpful water usage calculator and electrical energy cost calculator for residents looking to estimate their monthly consumption.

Holding question and answer sessions at the beginning of each month is another way to inform new residents about how to conserve energy in a submetered unit, and can also reach residents that do not prefer to be contacted online. Since strong customer service is one of the key factors contributing to resident retention, it’s important that property staff members are educated and up to date on both the education tools and conservation tips needed to answer resident questions and concerns.

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