For Families & Individuals

For Renters

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​​​Introd​​uc​​tion

55% of Ann Arbor’s housing stock are rental units, and the median year built for Ann Arbor rentals is 1964. Since there were no energy efficiency requirements in Michigan prior to 1977, many rentals were constructed without energy efficiency being considered in the design. Additionally, upgrades in rental units can be neglected more often than in owner-occupied homes, due to renters having limited ability to make these beneficial changes. Since landlo​rds do not always live in the building and may have limited experience in the daily operation of the home, they might not notice issues related to the comfort of the home.

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W​​hat Can I Do​​​​ as a Renter?  

All this​​ can make it difficult to effect change in your electric bills. But many small changes can be made to the way you use energy and water within your home that can make a difference in your monthly energy bills. Read on to learn about energy efficiency improvements you can make to put money back in your pocket while making your living space more comfortable.   

Strategies t​​o Reduce Energy Use 

  • ​​Turn off lights when not in use 
  • ​​​Keep your thermometer at the highest comfortable temperature in the summer, and the lowest comfortable temp​erature in the winter. 
    • ​​​​​You c​​an save as much as 10% per year on heating and cooling by turning your thermostat down 7°-10°F for eight hours a day.
    • ​​Som​e therm​ostats have automated settings to lower temperatures in the evenings.  
  • Use window​ blinds, drapes, or other window coverings to help maintain indoor temperatures and reduce variation due to extreme temperatures outside.   
  • Reduce water temperatures and ​​use less water by: 
    • Taking shorter showers 
    • Runnin​g your clothes washer with cold water 
    • Running clothes dryers on the lowest temperature setting (or better yet, air drying your clothes) 
    • Letting dishes air dry instead of using your dishwasher’s heated dry setting 
    • Running the dishwasher or washing machine only when you have full loads, or adjusting the size of the load accordingly 
  • ​​​Use efficient app​liance​s and electronics 
    • When pu​rchasing a new appliance or electronic device, look for the ENERGY STAR label. These products can reduce energy usage by as much as 75%, with most of these devices using about half the electricity as their standard counterparts. 
    • Let your com​puter and other electronics go to sleep after a period of inactivity.   
      • ​​There is a small surge in energy when a computer starts up, but this is less than the amount of energy used if it were to continue running.   
      • ​​​A good rule of thumb is to enable sleep mode if you are not going to use your computer for at least 20 minutes, and switch it off if you won’t be using it for at least two or more hours. 
    • If you currently have a gas stove, consider a portable induction cooktop. These can plug in to any outlet, giving you a non-gas alternative for cooking, while improving indoor air quality.  
    • ​Unplug electronics that you do not use on a regular basis, to avoid them drawing power in standby mode.  

Simp​​​le Home Improvements  

  • ​​Caulk. Use ca​u​lk to seal ¼ inch or smaller gaps in the exterior walls of a hom​e​ that may be letting in air. Some locations that benefit from caulking include: 
    • Baseboards along exterior walls 
    • Crown molding along the ceiling 
    • Cracks in frames around windows and doors 
    • Any other place in your home where two different building materials meet and leave a gap  
  • Weather​ Stripping. This involves installing an insulating material to help block dra​​fts due to gaps in doors and windows. These are relatively simple to install and can reduce drafts within a home. Use this weather-stripping guide for selection and installation tips 
  • LED light bul​bs. LEDs use up to 90% less energy and last up to 25 times longer ​than traditional bulbs. This is a cheap and quick change that can lead to quick savings.  

Some of these improvements may require approval from your landlord, so please be sure to check with your landlord before starting.

For more ideas o​n how to improve your rental’s energy efficiency, check out The Department of Energy’s Energy Saving Guide or other online resources for ​rente​rs.  ​

You can also ask y​​our la​ndlord to consider increasing your rental unit’s efficiency, especially for upgrades that you are unable to make. They might not​​ be aware of the discomfort you are experiencing. 

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A​​​ Lan​​dlor​d​​'s Role   

Much of the efficiency of a home is due to the tightness of the building envelope, as well as the appliances that are contained within a home. As a landlord, providing tenets opportunities to perform small upgrades in their rental units can increase comfort and reduce energy costs. It also could lead to a greater sense of ownership for the renter, resulting in a better cared-for home. Improving the efficiency of a home and allowing renters to play a part in this can improve the living experience for your tenets. 

Some​ ener​gy efficie​ncy upgrades must be performed by landlords, as they are more time consuming or expensive than the general strategies listed above. Landlords can consider implementing these measures. If you are a renter, you may want to ask your landlord to consider the following:  

  • Incorporate transparency by providing renters the cost of utilities before signing the lease. Prospective renters can also call the local utility and ask for the average cost of utilities at the address of interest. 
  • Provide a guide on how to use energy and water efficiently within a home, especially when renting to first time renters.  
  • Allow renters to perform simple weatherization upgrades that you have agreed on. If possible, an agreed upon budget to purchase improvement supplies would remove financial barriers to performing this upgrade.  
  • Replace older appliances with more energy efficient ones. We recommend upgrading appliances to electric models with an ENERGY STAR rating. 
  • Learn more about the Green Rental Housing program and support its implementation (see below for more details).  

Mu​ltifa​​​mily Electric Vehicle Charging  

Ann ​Arbor’s Office of Sustainability and Innovations is rapidly expanding publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city, and we want to keep renters in mind as we do so. If you are interested in EV charging at or near your place of residence, please email Simi Barr at [email protected]

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Green Rental​​ Housing Policy ​

Th​e City of Ann Arbor is working to develop a Green Rental Housing program to improve the health, safety, comfort, and energy efficiency of rentals. This program establishes a minimum level of energy efficiency in all rentals, transparency in the average cost of utilities, appliance efficiency improvements, and greater ability for renters to make weatherization upgrades to their units.  

For m​ore information​ on this initiative, please read the ​Green Rental Housing policy recommendations or email Zach Waas Smith at [email protected] ​

Sust​​​ainable Energy Utility and Renters ​

The Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU), which is currently under review, would provide electricity from local solar and battery storage systems installed on homes and businesses throughout the city. Renters would be eligible to participate and receive renewable electricity generated within the city of Ann Arbor, either through direct installation of renewable energy on rental sites (with landlord approval) or by participating in programs offered by the SEU, such as community solar. For more information about the proposed SEU, please visit the SEU webpage ​

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​​​
Office of Sustainability & Innovations (OSI)
301 E. Huron St.
Ann Arbor 
 
OSI Manager 
Dr. Missy Stults


Energy Coordinator​​
Joe Lange