Mention reducing energy costs and most people jump to “solar” as the logical solution. An easy assumption to make — solar ads are everywhere, and the idea of harnessing the sun’s power to offset energy costs is very appealing. However, installing solar before assessing current energy usage and ensuring energy efficiency at your multifamily property is a modern day example of putting the cart before the horse.
While experts agree solar should certainly be considered a key component to an overall energy strategy, it also carries the highest expense. Taking steps first to reduce your energy usage will ultimately maximize your solar investment and perhaps even lower your installation needs and costs.
An energy audit conducted by a professional rater will provide a snapshot of a property’s current energy usage and offer recommendations for upgrades to lower overall usage and operating costs. Each building is unique, and a building’s age, condition and renovation history need to be considered when determining energy efficiency improvements.
These are some of the systems the rater may suggest upgrading:
- Building Envelope – prevent air leakage by sealing the cracks and leaks in the building walls, ceilings and floors
- Insulation – minimizes heat flow through the envelope, keeping the building comfortable and reducing the need for heating and cooling.
- Windows – replace single-pane windows with dual-pane, high performance glass and low-e coating to reduce heat gain.
- Hot Water Systems – replace old equipment with energy efficient models or install on-demand controls that saves energy and water
- Space Heating & Air Conditioning – install programmable thermostats, seal and insulate air ducts and replace outdated equipment with high performing models.
- Lighting – replace fixtures and bulbs with CFLs and LED lights, install timers and motion sensors to noticeably cut energy bills
- Appliances – upgrade old refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers with ENERGY STAR models to save energy and water
Addressing energy efficiency before solar ensures your multifamily building is operating at peak performance effectively reducing the power production your new solar system will need to generate.
Incentives are available for whole-building upgrades through the Energy Upgrade California Multifamily program. Before making any changes, contact Nicole Beaulieu at 916-844-0084 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if your property is qualified.