What is energy management, and why does it matter?

Energy management typically refers to strategies that help reduce the amount of energy used.

For property managers, energy management does more than just help the planet. It also reduces costs and attracts tenants.

Of course, the global impact of using less energy is also important. Properties that are more energy-efficient are viewed more favorably. This can likely help you attract potential renters and even increase the amount that you can rent units for.

Proper energy management involves tracking, planning, and implementing energy-saving strategies, then tracking again, but Energy Star offers even more guidance on how to create your energy management program.

Create an Energy Program

Depending on the size of the property you manage, you may need to create a team dedicated to energy management, or you may just need to include some time in your schedule to follow the plan.

Once you have identified and created a plan that works best for you, it is necessary to identify the holes in your plan. 

Identify Gaps in Your Current Program

The EPA has conveniently created assessments for different types of buildings, such as small companies. You can use them to find areas in which your property needs to make changes to improve energy use.

Fill the Gaps

Once you have identified the gaps, you can fill them. Energy Star has guidelines to help you do just that. The guidelines include specific strategies to fill in the various gaps.

Motivate Residents via Awareness

For the best results, you should consider motivating your tenants to participate in your energy management program. Get them involved in the savings via signs or by suggesting that they make certain energy-efficient changes.

Examples of Actions in an Energy Program

You do not need to create your energy program from scratch, as Energy Star has plenty of suggestions of how to reduce your property’s energy consumption, including the following free or low-cost measures:

  •   Use the EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager to track energy consumption (and water consumption).
  •   Turn off the lights when there is enough daylight.
  •   Regularly clean the HVAC filters.
  •   Maintain the HVAC system.
  •   Educate your residents on energy use, including other points on this list.
  •   Create an energy team (which could be from residents in your building).
  •   Reward behaviors that are energy-efficient.

You can also supplement these with other actions that may require an initial cost but will pay you back in terms of energy savings quickly, such as installing LED lights, opting for Energy Star certified equipment for your administrative duties, and using occupancy sensors in infrequently used areas, such as storage spaces.

energy efficient dishwasher silver and modern

Major trends influencing energy management for property managers.

The most obvious way in which energy management systems help with property management is by reducing energy consumption. We already touched on some ways in which this benefits you as a property manager, but let’s go into greater detail.

Cost Savings

Any reduction in energy will lead to savings since you will spend less on electricity. Even if you manage a property where tenants are responsible for their own electric bills, you will still notice a reduction in costs in common areas that you are responsible for.

Risk Reduction for Future Costs

The reduction in energy used can also lead to a long-term reduction in risk, specifically the risk associated with fluctuations in energy costs. If you use less energy, your costs become more predictable, and they will be affected by a lesser degree by fluctuations in energy prices or even supply shortages.

This risk reduction is particularly important given the predicted increased demand for energy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2019 report expected energy consumption worldwide to grow 48 percent from 2012 to 2040.

Create More Accurate Budgets

The tracking aspect of energy management also helps property managers with budgeting. After all, tracking allows you to properly estimate how much you will likely spend on electricity. You can then allocate the appropriate amount of your budget with less concern about going over budget and having to take funds from another important aspect of your responsibilities.

Attract Tenants

There is an increasing interest in living in an energy-efficient way, so you will likely find yourself with more people interested in renting your property if you promote the measures that you take to help make it efficient.

Helping the Planet

In addition to the benefits for your business, energy management will help the planet in some important ways. You will reduce your consumption of energy, which reduces the carbon emissions that your properties are responsible for.

You Can Choose Better Tenants

Attracting more tenants via your energy management program lets you choose them more carefully. You can prioritize tenants that are less likely to cause future problems, saving you time in the future and helping reduce the risk of missed rent.

You Can Increase Rent

If the demand for your building increases, this will also allow you to increase your prices. That can generate immediate profits.

You will also be able to increase your prices slightly simply by promoting the efficiency measures you have in place. After all, if tenants will be spending less on their electric bill, they can allocate more for rent.

You Will Retain More Tenants

There is also the fact that when your property is viewed as more attractive and in-demand, you are more likely to retain tenants. This reduces the time spent without rent, the costs associated with cleaning units, and the time spent trying to find new tenants.

man installing solar panels on an energy efficient home

Individual pieces of energy management.

As mentioned, energy management is a set of strategies that you use to reduce the amount of energy used. It typically refers to businesses, homes, and government-sector organizations, including the homes and buildings run by property managers.

Tracking Energy Usage

A key energy management strategy is to track consumption. This provides a baseline point that will allow you to see if future energy-saving measures have a positive impact. It also helps you get a strong overall view of the data.

Saving Energy

This strategy involves both planning and execution. During the planning stages, property managers come up with various methods of reducing energy consumption. They also estimate how much energy they would save by using a given method.

After that planning, property managers can prioritize the measures to save energy based on their estimated effect. This lets you get the largest benefit quickly.

Tracking the Savings

After implementing the measures, energy managers continue to track energy usage. This helps you determine whether your efforts worked and to what extent.

Energy management vs. not managing energy.

The alternative to energy management would be to simply continue as normal and not necessarily contemplate tracking or saving energy. This would essentially be maintaining the status quo and would not provide property managers with any of the various benefits of energy management, nor would it provide any benefit for the planet.

In summary — why property managers should care about energy management.

Effective energy use results in direct cost savings, a long-term reduction in risk, the ability to attract more tenants, and benefits for the planet.

Creating an energy management system is not hard to do, and there are numerous resources available from the EPA and Energy Star to help. There are many simple steps you can take as a property manager, which you can then supplement by encouraging your tenants to take their own actions. The top-rated communication software to help kickstart your energy management plan is Podium. You can get your property managers started using Podium today for free.

Elizabeth Gallagher
Elizabeth Gallagher Real Estate, Legal & Financial Services Account Executive

Elizabeth Gallagher is a real estate and legal professional at Podium, the premier messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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