The Opportunity to Increase Energy Efficiency in Rentals

Landlords and renters are in it together as they work together towards energy efficiency in rentals.

Landlords and renters are in it together as they work together towards energy efficiency in rentals.

By Greg Fasullo

Consumers are increasingly seeking ways to decrease their carbon footprint and use energy more efficiently. The best place to start? At home.

A considerable decarbonization opportunity exists in the energy consumed by homes. Residential energy consumption accounts for nearly 20 percent of U.S. energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more emissions than Germany puts out, and approximately the same as Brazil.

Single-family rental homes (SFRs) have recently experienced substantial growth within the U.S. rental inventory. Their share of the market is currently valued at approximately $4.4 trillion. With the SFR market projected to further expand and become 12 percent of all new homes built over the next decade, there is a huge opportunity to increase sustainability efforts.

By following a process that involves pairing focused energy-efficiency upgrades and behavior changes with data driven by technology, major carbon reductions can be achieved. Rental operators and institutional landlords will see multi-faceted impacts — they’ll maximize savings and cut extra costs while working towards a more sustainable future.

Addressing Inefficiencies by Implementing Sustainable Solutions

Inefficiencies across SFR homes are rampant, from improper insulation to outdated appliances. In fact, American renters use nearly one-third more energy per square foot than homeowners do, especially when utility costs are fixed and bundled with rent. To address these opportunities for energy and cost savings, SFR operators must begin by conducting energy audits across their rental portfolios. These audits can pinpoint a rental property’s energy drainers and provide a tangible starting place for cutting energy usage at scale. An energy audit provides actionable data, and when weighed against the data from other rental portfolios it provides the necessary insight to define benchmarks and identify areas of improvement or success in energy efficiency.

Properly reducing emissions in SFRs comes largely through changing behavior, in the forms of both human and appliance behavior.  Improving appliance behavior includes making informed maintenance decisions, taking advantage of appliance-technology capabilities, and weighing the benefits of replacing old appliances with newer, often more energy-efficient options. None of this is possible or effective without information from regular energy audits and ongoing energy monitoring benchmarked against large data sets in the SFR industry.

After all, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Changes in human behavior are also aided by the same process. Rental operators and institutional landlords can make informed decisions on energy-efficiency, from smaller items such as window and door insulation, to larger system upgrades such as solar panels and residential batteries. Renters and SFR occupants can also use their desire to reduce emissions and save money to shape behavior changes. This can take many forms, including understanding and implementing best practices around heating and cooling as well as taking advantage of natural light during the day.

Holistic Energy-Efficiency is an Investment for All

Ultimately, landlords and renters are in it together. As they work together towards energy-efficiency in rentals, they’ll share the benefits that will follow. Air quality will improve. Money will be saved. Carbon footprints, both individual and institutional, will be reduced. They’ll make their homes stand out through investing in energy-efficiency and renters will be proud to live there.

About the author:

Greg Fasullo is CEO of Elevation, an energy solutions company targeting the single-family rental market with an energy-efficiency platform. Fasullo is an executive and entrepreneur with three decades of experience in technology, innovation and ethical capitalism

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