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Rental Units Lag Behind Owner-Occupied Units in Energy Efficiency

Rental homes use 15 percent more energy per square foot than owner-occupied homes, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit research organization focused on energy waste. As a result, nearly one-third of renters face high energy burdens and spend more than six percent of their income on energy bills. Unfortunately for many renters, making energy efficiency improvements is either forbidden or cost-prohibitive. In many cases, changing energy components and systems is barred by leasing terms. Renters are rarely allowed to switch out lighting fixtures, HVAC parts, or even window treatments. Furthermore, these improvements can cost hundreds of dollars upfront, a price that many renters cannot afford. Landlords fail to make energy efficiency improvements because of the low salience of high energy costs. Since most landlords require tenants to pay energy bills, there is little incentive to pay for potentially costly energy efficiency improvements that will most likely only benefit tenants. Consequently, landlords forego these improvements and rely on renters to pay for the energy lost. Dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from houses and other residential buildings is vital for tackling climate change, ACCEE said. Commercial and residential buildings account for about 29 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. In response to the efficiency gap between rental and owner-occupied units, ACEEE has launched an initiative to work directly with local governments to improve rental home energy improvements. Throughout 2022, the organization will provide technical assistance to local governments to find implementable energy efficiency solutions for renter-occupied homes. To learn more about the initiative by ACEEE, click here!

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