The headache of energy efficiency service providers: managing the tenants.

The buildings of rented dwellings, private or public, present characteristics that are not, at first sight, favourable to the success of energy efficiency initiatives.

In Europe, the structure of the rental market varies strongly from a country to the other one and influences the exposure on the subject: in Spain, only 16 % of housing are rented against 65 % in Switzerland. In an intermediate situation, Austria has the record of public housing rented with 23 % of the total park.

The influence of the tenants varies as we carry out actions aiming at the evolution of the behaviour of the consumers or energy retrofit initiatives.

First of all, a tenant is incited to modify his behaviour to reduce his consumption if he pays himself his energy (electricity, heating but also, by extension, water) or if the service charge he pays correspond to his own consumption.

Should the opposite occur, it will be impossible to motivate any commitment from him:

– He considers his energy bill as an almost fixed charge and sometimes consumes to justify its amount.

– If he modifies his behaviour, the profit will not be visible immediately, at least at the time of the regularizations of the end of year, and will be strongly diluted because distributed between all the tenants of the building. In a nutshell, efforts for very few results.

– On the other hand, the tenant can feel more concerned when purchasing consumer equipment (bulbs, household electrical equipment). He still benefits only from a very thin part of the achieved savings but, in case of minor additional price, he can be made sensitive and accompanied to choose the most efficient equipment.

The buildings energy retrofit is made difficult by the fact that the owner invests and tenants benefit from savings.

– The energy retrofit of the building does not provide any additional value to the property, to make profitable the investment of the owner.

– In numerous countries, the regulations define strictly the expenses, an owner can impute to the tenant via service charges. Often, the investments cannot be shared, even partially.

– Smart Cities depend, on this point, on a national regulation that they cannot change.

In front of the difficulties, I have just evoked, to develop energy efficiency initiatives in rented dwellings, a help of the regulation is necessary:

– For gradually, where necessary, impose invoices of fluids corresponding to the real consumptions

– To allow the owners to share with the tenants the profits of an energy retrofit of their property, why not, according to the principle of Performance Contracting: allow them to capture during a time, all or part of the realized energy savings. With such a mechanism, the tenant does not lose, the owner can pay off his investment.

These conditions are necessary but naturally not sufficient: services will have to accompany consumers and owners to obtain and perpetuate results. It is on this ground that Smart City will have to be present.

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