We Energies’ multifamily incentive program aims to conserve both money and energy by installing energy-efficient products and providing other services at no cost to owners of multifamily buildings.
According to Barry McNulty, manager of media relations and specialty projects at We Energies, the multifamily incentive program has improved 9,200 buildings in Milwaukee, representing 26,680 individual units since its genesis in 2006. Qualified buildings include those with two to eight units.
The program, approved through Dec. 31, offers free installation of showerheads, faucet aerators, compact fluorescent light bulbs, programmable thermostats and pipe insulation.
Other free services provided by the program include testing whether heated or cooled air is escaping from the building, which raises energy costs. We Energies’ field technicians also evaluate each building to determine energy savings that building owners can institute immediately and in the future.
The program offers cash incentives to qualified building owners to purchase energy-efficient products and equipment for the same cost as the standard alternative, according to Steve Gorecki, the multifamily incentive program marketing analyst for We Energies.
Gorecki said the products and services available through the program are extremely energy-forward strategies. The products are easy to install quickly, yet can significantly decrease the amount of energy used and, therefore, save money.
Typical annual savings for a two-unit building with the multifamily incentive program are more than $500, while those for an eight-unit building are more than $2,000.
Building owners should be motivated not only by these savings and savings for their tenants, but also by the opportunity to reduce their building’s ecological footprint, Gorecki said.
The program offers help to Milwaukee neighborhood residents who don’t always receive adequate attention, said Aaron Grant, program coordinator for the Neighborhood Improvement Project. The project works to improve the housing conditions of low-income owner occupants in deteriorating or unsafe homes in targeted areas of Milwaukee.
“There are a lot of programs out there for single-family home owners for home improvements,” Grant said. “It doesn’t seem to me there are a lot of opportunities to help people living in apartment buildings.”
Grant said any physical improvements that can be applied to make units more efficient are a direct and positive way to impact not only underserved neighborhoods, but also Milwaukee as a whole.
According to Grant, the program could also be helpful by teaching people who haven’t owned their own homes to be more energy-efficient.
“Teaching [tenants] how they could make these kinds of modifications and things they could do day by day to conserve energy is a good start. I think that’s the direction we need to be heading,” Grant said.
McNulty said the multifamily incentive program was established after Hurricane Katrina, when prices for natural gas spiked. We Energies, in coordination with the governor’s office, committed to helping those hardest hit by natural gas price increases.
“We Energies established a program for our small business, multifamily and residential low-income customers to help them use natural gas more efficiently in their buildings,” McNulty wrote in an e-mail.
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