Category Archives: Energy Efficiency

Replacing Windows to Save Money

slide2When the muti-family apartment building you own has cracks in the windows or has windows which don’t close properly, it can cost you money. Because apartments which are drafty and cold in the winter require more heating. Also bad windows can make apartments too hot in the summer because of poor insulation. Further, even if tenants pay their own utilities, the heat loss and heat gain will destroy your budgeted expense payments because of the extra heating and cooling required in the hallways and common areas. So rents go up and then you lose good tenants and can’t even attract new ones either because the apartments also look rundown.

So replacing your windows may be the best option. In order to determine which windows will work best for your building though you will need to understand the energy performance ratings on windows. This way you’ll be able to make an intelligent decision on windows based on the design of your building and the climate in your area. Further, after you make your decision, hire a reliable contractor to install them properly. So all this stated, here is some helpful information for you dealing with the above matter:

  • South facing windows: South facing windows should have a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of at least 0.6 to maximize solar heat in the winter when it is cold. Windows should also have a U-factor of 0.35 or less so it reduces conductive heat transferred out in the winter and in during the summer. A VT or high visible transmittance is needed for good visible light transference too.
  • East, west, and north facing windows: It’s harder to control heat and light transfer through east and west facing windows because of the sun’s rising and setting. So these windows should be shaded or have a low SHGC. North facing windows gain little solar heat so their main use is for lighting
  • Cooler climate strategies: Strategies which are effective here are using north facing windows and shaded south facing windows for reducing cooling loads. Windows with a low SHGS are especially effective here. You are trying to keep heat in in other words.

When your making your selection for windows based on energy efficiency, first consider the windows’ ratings in relation to what is your climate and the design of your building. Also you need to select windows that have both low U-factor ratings and SHGS to get the most energy savings in a climate with both hot and cold seasons.

However; the best advice is to talk to a specialist at a building supply company when you are buying your windows.

Lighting Up the Outside

When an apartment building is undergoing construction, one of the main concerns should be about proper outdoor lighting. Because with proper lighting, the tenants of the building will feel and be safer, and the reputation of the building being a safe place to live will increase. Also without proper lighting, tenant turnover may increase because people feel unsafe on the grounds after dark.

outdoor-lightingBut is professionally installed outside lighting really that important as opposed to you doing it? Actually the answer is yes. Because experts will know how to do it right. Because the reason for exterior lighting in parking lots anyway is to make sure there aren’t any hidden dangers and dark spots where threatening people can hide in. The exterior lighting should be bright enough then at 100 feet for a person walking to see potential threats and be able to avoid them. Bright lighting helps to deter criminal activity because of identification risk on the part of the criminal. Criminals like easy targets in dark places and professional lighting experts know how to design the lighting.

Also, another important area is the perimeter of the apartment building and the entry way. So exterior lighting in common areas needs to be on a timer or photo-cell which is timed to be turned on when it’s dusk and then turn back off when it’s dawn.

Perimeter flood lights with motion detectors are another option for safety issues. The motion detector will only turn on the flood lights when a human body comes across its field of detection. That way, if someone is on the premises or just walking around, the lights will come on and anyone out walking will be able to see that person.

With some managers, the concern that too much lighting will disturb the tenants in their apartments may keep some portions of the complex dark. Some of these areas may be the passage area between buildings, the swimming pool area, the area where pets can be walked and the laundry rooms. By hiring professional contractors who work with these issues daily though, they can use lights which have special light pollution and glare technology which will solve these problems when installed. With these specific areas targeted, the tenants can feel safe as they walk back and forth in these areas.

There are some things which should be left to the professionals and exterior lighting done correctly is one of them.

How Often Should Window Be Replaced in Rentals?

Your multifamily property probably has lots of windows. Replacing windows can be a costly investment so it’s important to do some research so that you understand when it’s necessary. New windows provide a variety of advantages. They can help you increase the energy efficiency of your multifamily units. New windows can increase the value of your multifamily unit by upgrading the appearance of the outside of the building.

DSCN1503If quality windows are installed in the multifamily units, they may last up to 20 years. However, older windows can significantly affect the energy efficiency of the units. Old windows often have gaps which allow cold and warm air to escape from the unit. Window technology has improved significantly over the past two decades.

How do you know if your windows need to be replaced? First you can do some basic checks on your own your own. Can you feel cold or heat through the window? When it’s windy outside, do the curtains or blinds move? Are the windows easy to open and close? Do you find moisture or condensation on the inside of the window? If you notice any of these problems, it’s a sign that your windows don’t fit tightly and need to be replaced. You’re losing energy through your windows which affects your electric and gas bills.

Consider updates to windows for aesthetic as well as energy efficiency concerns. Your windows should fit in with the design of the home. If your multifamily property has been remodeled, you may need to update your windows to keep up with your remodeling projects.

It’s not easy to determine if your windows need to replaced but your multifamily contractor should be able to give you advice. Your contractor can explain what types of windows are best for your situation. Many older window styles are made with single pane glass which is not as energy efficient.  The windows feel cold in the winter and can frost on the inside. In some cases, the windows may break.

Dual pane windows can significantly lower your energy bills because well-fitting, dual pane windows will keep out the elements such as wind, heat, cold, rain and snow. New windows will pay for themselves in a very short amount of time.

How to Make Rentals More Energy Efficient

Energy efficiency is a popular modern concern. It’s important to multifamily property owners for a variety of reasons. First, many current laws encourage energy efficiency upgrades. Many power and water companies offer rebates and other financial incentives for installing energy efficient upgrades to homes. For multifamily construction property owners who are concerned about the environment, they can make a difference by investing in these types of technologies. Finally, it makes good financially in the long run. Water, heating and gas bills will be much lower which will make the multifamily property much more profitable.

An experienced multifamily contractor can give you advice about which upgrades will provide you with the most benefits. A project manager can help you make a long-term plan for upgrading various parts of your property over the long term. He or she will probably recommend that you replace the oldest pieces of equipment first. Another common recommendation is to do some of the easiest fixes first.

iStock_000006799161SmallOld equipment like outdated furnaces can seriously affect your energy efficiency. Older furnaces and boilers can be considerably less efficient than modern systems. Some low-efficiency systems can run as low as 65%. You will quickly realize your return on investment as modern gas or oil furnaces range from 80 to 98%. New gas or oil burners can run at efficiencies from 80% to 98%. This can significantly reduce your bills quickly. You may also receive rebates.

Your multifamily contractor will make additional recommendations for addressing energy concerns. Are your windows tightly fitted? Can you feel air coming through the sides of the windows? If so, it may be time to replace your windows. Your multifamily units can lose a lot of heat and cooling through windows that don’t fit properly. It may also be a good idea to invest in energy-rated window coverings. These can block cold air and keep rooms from overheating in the summer.

Other issues to consider are unit doors which can allow heat and cool air to escape. Are your buildings properly insulated? Solar energy is a big investment but can provide big payoffs. There are many big and small ways your can increase your buildings’ energy efficiency.

Tenant Pet Peeves

Your best tenants may move when their leases end if your property has too many frustrating problems. As a property owner, you need to be aware of common tenant frustrations and make sure your rental units are up-to-date and function properly. If tenants complain about problems, you should address them immediately. Next, you should check to see if these issues are limited to one unit or are widespread. If your units are all having similar issues, it’s time to call in a multi-family construction company to help bring your property up-to-date so you won’t lose tenants.

interiors-sinkPlumbing is a big issue for tenants. If your property has constant plumbing problems like backed up toilets, limited hot water or bad water pressure, residents will be frustrated. Plumbing problems affect the quality of their day-to-day lives so they will lose patience quickly. Make sure you work with a multi-family construction company that has significant experience with plumbing issues. They can advise you on how to approach plumbing issues. Your multi-family construction partner may recommend a variety of solutions such as upgrading water heaters, replacing plumbing lines and a variety of other solutions.

Tenants expect their homes to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. You will get complaints quickly if your HVAC system doesn’t function properly. Tenants won’t renew leases if they are physically uncomfortable. Dealing with HVAC issues can be a significant project. You should work with a multi-family construction company that can thoroughly examine your HVAC system and make recommendations for improvement. Some upgrades may have energy and tax advantages if you switch to more energy-efficient equipment. Your multi-family construction company should give you options that include energy-efficiency improvements.

You should consult with your multi-family construction company representative about other issues around your property. The multi-family construction company can inspect the property for additional concerns that may irritate your clients including loose railings, loose windows, old sliding doors, cracked sidewalks and bad fencing. They may also recommend updating your clubhouse if hasn’t been renovated recently. Nice clubhouses are a big attraction for new tenants so you should consider any recommendations your multi-family construction company suggests.

The Importance of Good and Efficient Site Lighting

Good lighting makes your multi-family unit considerably safer. Cars will be able to see pedestrians more easily which cuts down on accidents. Residents will feel more at ease walking in a well-lit area at night. Insufficient lighting makes the area seem dangerous. Good lighting will help attract and retain tenants. It can also cut down on crime in the units because criminals tend to avoid well-lit areas.

Carefully evaluate the lighting on your property from several angles. Are parts of the parking lot darker than others? Is there sufficient light in between buildings? What about the hallways inside and outside of the building? Investigate the laundry facilities and the hallways leading to them. You should also check the areas around the clubhouse and near trash receptacles. Tenants prefer good lighting in all of these areas. You should also check to see if the lights in any area tend to flicker.

A multi-family construction company can help you develop a lighting plan or upgrade your existing lighting. Multi-family construction companies are experienced with these types of projects and can give you helpful advice on how to get the most for your money.

commercialOne of the advantages of working with a multi-family construction company is that they typically have their own electrical staff. You won’t have to wait until they can coordinate an electrical team to work on your property. You can also work with the multi-family construction company on a wide range of other projects which will make managing the property significantly easier.

A multi-family construction company can help you find the most efficient lighting possible for your property. Your energy costs don’t have to go up when you install more lighting. A multi-family construction company may recommend replacing older lighting units to install new, energy-efficient lighting that will save you money over the long run. You’ll please your tenants and save on energy costs at the same time. In some cases, you may be able to deduct energy efficient lighting alterations on your tax forms. Your multi-family construction company can help you understand the tax advantages of revamping lighting.

Energy Efficiency and Mutifamily Housing

Multifamily housing provides homes for over 40 million people around the country, and there is a huge potential for improvement in energy efficiency in the industry.    State and local governments are moving rapidly to adopt benchmarking and disclosure laws as a part of their efforts to make existing buildings more energy efficient and lower energy bills for local residents.  Six major cities (including Austin, Texas) and two states, have adopted disclosure and benchmarking laws for multifamily housing energy efficiency, totaling over 1.3 million housing units.  The goal is to introduce competency and competitiveness in the multifamily housing industry that previously, was not seen.  Most apartment buildings are 36 years old on average and were built prior to energy efficiency laws were in place.  CNT energy conducted a study in 2012 with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which shows that energy efficiency upgrades in multifamily housing could save building owners and residents up to $3.4 billion annually.  Where do most of the energy compliance problems exist?  What repairs need to be completed to ensure energy efficiency?

  • Air Ducts

The energy commission estimates that improper air duct installation is responsible for 20 to 40 percent of energy loss in residential buildings.  Animals, rodents, and age can also result in tears or rips in duct work.

  • Insulation

The standard width of insulation rolls is 16 inches.  When the space between the floor and beams is narrower, many subcontractors will simply stuff the insulation into the space without cutting it to fit insulationproperly.  When insulation is compressed, it reduces the R-Value, a measurement of its insulation capability.

  • Framing

The energy commission advocates energy efficient design and construction methods that reduce the amount of framing and studs, and increase the amount of insulation.  Generally speaking, the more framing that exists creates a greater chance of energy loss.  Air penetrating through leaks in walls and framing can cause particles from fiberglass insulation to become airborne, causing potential respiratory problems.  The potential for air leaks also increases and can be even greater in buildings with various ceiling heights.

  • Windows

Heat gain through windows is responsible for 50 percent of the cooling load in warmer climates.  Improperly installed windows are a major source of air and water intrusion from unconditioned spaces.  Besides energy loss, water seepage can cause mold and decay, resulting in extensive damage.

  •  Roofing

The heat from a roof makes an air conditioner work even harder to cool a space.  Leaks or gaps in tiles or shingles can create for leakage or water seepage that could result in structural damage and mold.

With energy costs on the rise by more than 20 percent, along with a greater focus on energy efficiency, multifamily housing can gain profitability by focusing on improvements and gain tenant loyalty.

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