WASHINGTON — According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the benefits of energy efficiency have been out of reach for many of the more than 20 million U.S. families living in apartments or condominiums that are often underserved by energy efficiency programs. A new report from ACEEE,Apartment Hunters: Programs Searching for Energy Savings in Multifamily Buildings, offers advice to utilities on how to deliver energy efficiency to multifamily customers.

ACEEE said energy efficiency programs often underserve multifamily buildings because they can be more challenging to reach than large commercial buildings and single-family homes. An earlier ACEEE report showed that in many metropolitan areas, multifamily housing’s share of energy efficiency program dollars is much smaller than their share of the housing market. The new report describes energy saving strategies that utilities can follow to start new multifamily programs or strengthen existing ones.

“We found that although barriers exist, they are not made of stone,” said report author Kate Johnson. “By following the best practices described in this report, utilities can break through to owners and tenants of multifamily buildings. Many of them are unknowingly wasting large of amounts of money.”

ACEEE looked at several successful programs already offered by energy utilities and state program administrators. These programs are typically funded by utility customers through their monthly bills, and they provide services and financial incentives to help businesses and households reduce their energy use.

Some leading programs, including those of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Puget Sound Energy, are already achieving high energy and cost savings.

“In an effort to reduce energy consumption across all sectors of the economy, NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program (MPP) complements Governor Cuomo’s Build Smart NY program, which is driving energy savings at state buildings, as well as NYSERDA’s commercial and residential energy efficiency programs,” said John B. Rhodes, president and CEO, NYSERDA. “MPP’s incentives and the technical support provided by the program’s trade partners have resulted in an average of 23 percent savings per participating building.”

ACEEE said comparable savings are possible elsewhere in the country if utilities adopt the best practices identified in the new multifamily report. These programs deliver savings to both building owners and residents.

“By combining no-cost apartment improvements with rebates for lighting, heating, and cooling upgrades, we’ve been able to reach nearly half of our multifamily customers,” said John Forde, market manager at Puget Sound Energy. “This represents a huge jump in the number of customers enjoying the benefits of energy efficiency.”

Additional program strategies featured in the report include on-bill financing, low-income housing programs, and streamlining rebates across residential and commercial programs.

To read the report, visit http://aceee.org/research-report/e13n.

Publication date: 12/16/2013

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!