Americans use an average of 100 gallons of water every day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Combine that with the current drought in the West and Southwest, and it may be a good time for property managers to make their communities more sustainable and less dependent on water. Whether it’s looking for a quick way to decrease utility costs or committing to long-term, high-impact projects, there are many ways to save energy and water in multi-housing communities.
One quick fix is to convert to LED lighting for pathways, parking garages and other outdoor areas. LED bulbs have a lifespan of 25,000 hours or more, resulting in a significant decrease in utility costs. Choose ENERGY STAR® LED lighting products, which use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.
Another easy upgrade is to install Wi-Fi thermostats, such as the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, which can cut a resident’s total energy bill by up to 40 percent annually. It adds an unmatched layer of convenience by enabling residents to control temperatures from their smart phone. During the colder months, programmable thermostats can also be used to help prevent pipe bursts, saving property managers from emergency repair services.
Sealing cracks and seams at properties is a simple project that can be done or inspected periodically throughout the year. Property managers can reduce energy bills up to 30 percent annually by caulking and weather-stripping all openings to ensure air stays inside the units. For added savings, install heat-blocking cellular shades in common areas – helping to reduce energy bills up to 17 percent annually. The shades come in a variety of colors to match existing décor while keeping the space warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
Water use is another easy area to increase efficiency and save money. Property managers can reduce water usage by up to 20 percent by installing WaterSense®-certified products. These low-flow products include bathroom sink faucets, toilets and showerheads. Advancing technology is also helping manufacturers design ultra-high-efficiency models, such as the 0.8 gallon-per-flush Niagara Stealth Toilet.
Property managers should examine the functionality of all toilets, faucets and showerheads at least once a year to reduce potential plumbing leaks. According to the EPA, a leaky faucet can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year. Not only can faulty plumbing raise the water bill, but it can also lead to water damage and mold, resulting in additional out-of-pocket costs for property managers.
To further save on water usage property wide, consider revamping the landscape irrigation system. Install a high-tech, smarter irrigation system like the Rachio Wi-Fi Smart Irrigation Controller, which uses 30 percent less water and practically eliminates excess watering.
Larger projects – like upgrading to more efficient appliances – require more upfront investment but also have a greater impact on energy and water savings. In addition to appliances, water heaters present another great opportunity to upgrade and save. The Rheem 30-Gallon Gas Water Heater, for example, not only meets the federally mandated water heater regulations that went into effect earlier this year, it also provides the output of a 50-gallon water heater with the footprint of a 30-gallon unit.
Even the smallest changes can make a significant difference. Property managers should also encourage residents to be environmentally conscious. Conserving energy and water is a joint effort, so share ways that residents can be more efficient on a daily basis, such as turning off lights that are not in use, taking shorter showers and turning off water when brushing their teeth.
By making communities more sustainable, property managers can save money and potentially attract a new group of residents that value eco-friendly amenities.
Scott Matthews is responsible for managing national accounts and e-commerce while overseeing business-to-business relationships. During his 25 years at The Home Depot, he has served in a variety of roles and capacities, including regional pro sales manager, district manager and store manager.