Renewals that Go Green - Written for Appfolio's E-Zine

One of the top trends for this year, much like last year, is "Being Green,"  but being a little green isn't enough now.  Now you've got to try to be greener than the guy down the street.   Luckily, despite Kermit's mantra, it is getting exceptionally easy to be green!  The cost associated with being eco friendly is much lower these days, which makes that tree much easier to hug.  Why not use this trend and the lower costs to your advantage with your renewals? 

Putting together a Green Living Upgrade pack for your residents can be surprisingly simple. Here are a few ideas of items you could include as well as services that go along with those items.  You don't have to choose everything on this list (but kudos to you if you do!) but even picking 6 or 7 of these things can make a big difference on the carbon footprint of your property!  You might put a little bit more work on your maintenance team, but in the long run you're investing in your assets and, unit by unit, you're turning your property just a little more green.

  • Compact Florescent Bulbs - I don't know of a size they DON'T make in these now, and it can cost under $20 to replace every single bulb in a home.  Not only will your residents enjoy not having to replace a light bulb for up to 10 years, but I'll be the difference in their utility bill, with 66% less energy consumption, will bring a smile to their face as well.
  • Motion Sensors - Maybe not for every room, but for the main living areas, kitchen, and master bedroom, the total cost can be less than $15 each, and the install time for your techs is going to run at under 20 minutes.  One of the other great points about installing these in a home is that when the home becomes vacant again and your office is paying the electricity bills, you're going to be paying less because the lights won't be accidentally left on.
  • New Weather Stripping -  Did you know that some homes in California lose between 35% and 45% of their energy to poor weather stripping around doors and windows?  This is a process that will take about 2 hours per apartment, but installing weather stripping is exceedingly simple.  Heck, *I* can do it.
  • Low Flow Shower Heads and Faucet Aerators - Again, this one will cost you some installation time, but the shower heads can be purchased for under $15 each and you should never have to pay more than $5 for a faucet aerator.
  • The Logoed Reusable Shopping Bag - I've mentioned this one several times before, but I'll throw it in here.  These are getting very cheap to buy a stack of and  you can keep massive amounts of waste out of the landfills just by remembering to say no to both paper AND plastic.
  • A Fleece Throw - These you can find in bulk for under $7 each, and you can easily have your logo put on them.  Turning down your heater in the winter can not only save you money on your energy bills, but it can also make a huge impact on the planet.  If every home in the US would keep their thermostat at 67 degrees year around, we could be free from our dependence on foreign oil in less than 5 years.  (And yes, I did learn that from the Simpson's movie, but I verified it, too!)
  • Pine or Rosemary Sachets for Closets - Mothballs are WAY not good for people, dogs, cats, or the environment, but you can find a natural replacement for these with small sachets filled with pine or rosemary.  Please avoid cedar, since it costs a tree to make the chips and that hardly seems like a good use for that great resource.
  • A Reusable Water Bottle - You can throw your logo on this item as well, but I caution you not to go with the cheapest ones you find.  Get a good quality product with this, something like a Naglene bottle, since the low end plastic ones can actually hold carcinogens in their materials.
  • A Big Leafed Green Plant - For under $7 you can supply your resident with a great air purifier, made from all natural materials!  Philodendrons work well but so do ferns and other big leaf having plants.  
  • Make sure to ask them if they have any leaks at all in their apartments, since even a small leak of a drip can waste up to 20 gallons of water every DAY.  While your tech is in the apartment doing some of the green upgrades, you might consider having he or she drop a little food coloring in the tanks of the toilets.  If they come back to check 30 minutes later, they can see if there is a leak to the bowl by the tell tale color indicator.
  • Consider asking your techs to clean the coils on the back of the fridges.  Not only are dirty coils a fire hazard, but they can cause a higher use of energy in the appliance.  Also, dirty coils can lead to a shorter lifespan for your appliance.
  • And last, but certainly not least, I recommend putting in a copy of THE GREEN BOOK, which will cost about $11.  It's printed on recycled paper using soybean inks, and it's a great read about all the little things that you can do that impact the planet.

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