Is smart apartment technology missing from your multifamily utility management strategy?
Improve your multifamily utility management by implementing smart apartment technology to lower utility usage and vacant unit utility costs.
With residents working from home, schooling from home, and going out less thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, multifamily communities are consuming more energy and water than ever before.
Across multifamily communities, lights are on from 9-5. Thermostats are turned down for the day. Dishwashers, stoves, sinks, and bathrooms are being used much more frequently. As you would expect, that means sky-high utility bills. And, naturally, residents and property managers are looking for ways to cut back. The good news – there are solutions!
How does smart apartment technology improve utility management?
Smart apartment solutions give multifamily communities visibility into utility consumption, the ability to remotely control it, and allows for automation of this consumption. The net effect is the optimization of usage.
If you don’t already have smart apartment devices installed in your units, you may think they are simply a way to add modern touches to your community and garner higher rent premiums. However, apartment operators are increasingly turning to smart devices to improve multifamily utility management, too. In fact, one study conducted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimates that buildings with smart apartment solutions save between 8-18% on energy costs. If implemented portfolio-wide the savings smart devices bring can be substantial.
There are three main reasons why smart devices are becoming more and more popular among property owners, operators, and managers who want to minimize utility usage and manage expenses in their communities”
- They lower utility usage amongst residents, resulting in cost savings
- There are fewer utility-related maintenance expenses thanks to proactive detection
- They lower vacant unit utility costs and allow for easier turns
Let’s dive into each of these three areas to understand how smart apartment technology can bolster your multifamily utility management strategy.
1. Lower utility usage among residents
Smart building technology creates a unique living experience for your residents, adding to the value of your apartment community and strengthening retention rates. At the same time, it also helps lower utility usage by residents, which strengthens your bottom line.
When residents use only what they need, their utility spend is lower and so are the property utility costs. We’ve all been guilty of leaving our home with the lights on or thermostat cranked. Smart apartment devices minimize wasted energy that stems from forgetfulness. They also give residents the convenience of controlling lights, thermostats, lights, outlets, plugs, and switches from their smartphone, from anywhere.
With remote monitoring control and automation, residents can check for devices they might have accidentally left on. Or they can adjust devices to prepare for their arrival home. They can easily program devices with a schedule, so they won’t have to remember but still save. Saving on their bills and the property’s bills becomes easy.
Smart devices are a helpful tool to combat wasteful utility usage. When residents use only what they need, it lowers their utility spending. Ultimately, that drives down your buildings’ utility costs, too.
2. Fewer utility-related maintenance expenses
Smart apartment technology alerts staff to potential problems at your property, helping you avoid costly disasters linked to utilities. IoT (Internet of Things) technology can readily detect leaks, mold, and malfunctioning HVAC systems, which usually result in excessive utility usage.
For instance, a leaky faucet often takes weeks, if not months, for a resident to notice and alert management. The resulting in spikes in water usage and potential water damage can be significant, with the average cost of restoration ranging from $2,000-$5,000. Some repairs even reach as high as $8,000 if there’s severe damage. But, with water sensors installed on your apartment building’s plumbing system, that leak could be identified in a matter of hours, not weeks. That means the problem can be fixed long before it becomes a bigger issue (and a bigger expense).
Fault detection and diagnostic software systems also make maintenance easier and more efficient. These tools quickly identify important utility-related issues. It allows maintenance staff to prioritize and address them before more complex problems or large energy expenses arise.
Plus, engineers can monitor, control, and constantly analyze all aspects of a building from anywhere. The overall ability to monitor, control, and analyze various aspects of a building from anywhere brings property managers faster issue resolution, better problem prevention, and improved property performance.
3. More efficient vacant unit expense management
Having smart apartment technology in your units allows for remote control and automation of in-unit devices. Smart building devices enable easier, more cost-effective turnover when a lease is up and while units are empty.
Automated thermostats keep vacant units at a proper temperature, all day, every day. If a prospect wants to tour a unit, property managers can remotely program the system to a comfortable temperature at the scheduled time. And when the tour is concluded, the thermostat will automatically resume the default settings for unoccupied units. This is just one example of how implementing smart automation as part of your multifamily utility management strategy can offer efficiencies that translate to savings.
On top of energy conservation, smart devices enable easier, more cost-effective unit turns by streamlining access control and enabling self-guided tours.
In the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, not having to tour the units with residents is more than plus, it’s a necessity. Here are some of the ways smart apartment technology can make in-person viewings seamless, and contactless:
- Old resident lock codes are automatically deleted
- Lock codes that expire give prospects temporary access
- New resident lock codes are automatically generated
- Rekeys are eliminated
- Keys and fobs for vendor access are eliminated
- No more lost keys or fobs
- Audit trails record the progress in each unit
Smart apartment devices are a powerful ally in:
- Lowering resident utility usage
- Avoiding preventable maintenance expenses
- Efficiently managing vacant units.
They align resident and property interests, ensuring each individual unit and the community as a whole runs as efficiently as possible, saving you money. In fact, an executive at BH Management estimates that using smart devices saved the company an average of $38 per month, per unit.