The summer season between May and July is a frequent time property managers and landlords experience tenant turnover. While this can result in a busy time to fill vacancies, property managers can take advantage of this opportunity to assess apartment units not only for wear and tear, but also for energy efficiency. Unit turnover is a critical time for gaining an understanding of just what’s happening in your building.

This month we’re highlighting the Existing Buildings Unit Turnover Bundle, which incentivizes in-unit upgrades that are often in need of replacement during unit turnover including heat pumps, thermostats, low flow showerheads and aerators, refrigerators, and in-unit LED fixtures. Learn more about this program bundle in the Program Manual.

In addition, including an energy audit as a part of your unit turnover process will allow you to gain another data point on the “pre-condition” of your units. Consider working with an energy auditor to include the following inspection points in the energy audit:

  • The dye test. Dropping a blue dye tab or food coloring into the reservoir tank of the toilet at the beginning of the audit provides an excellent opportunity to see if a leak occurs into the bowl over the next fifteen minutes.
  • To add to your water savings potential, have the auditor place a small bucket under the tub spout to determine if there’s a drip slipping past your diverter gasket. While the auditor is in the bathroom, the “heel test” of putting the full weight of a step on the heel of their shoe all around the toilet can tell you if a current or past leak around the drain seal has caused flooring damage.
  • Finally, while in the bathroom, ask the auditor to test if the bathroom fan is working by turning it on and holding up two or three sheets of toilet paper to the fan grill. If the toilet paper sticks, congratulations, you are likely getting at least 40 cfm of air movement. If not, we’ve identified a ventilation improvement opportunity.
  • Other items the energy auditor can (and should) be checking for you: CO and smoke detectors, are they working? Is there any “suspected visible growth” aka potential mold/mildew in corners, closets, or around windows?
  • Finally, adding a quick security check to the audit can help ensure that your building retrofit will truly be targeting the needs of the building. Do the doors close and lock easily? Do the windows open/close and lock/unlock with ease?

To support your energy audit, find great guidance on work specifications for multifamily retrofits using the Standard Work Specifications Tool developed by the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (Note: On the search bar on the upper right, use the pulldown menu to select Multifamily Homes when searching for specifications that can help guide any audit or retrofit.)