June 6, 2023

Electrification is Key to the Multifamily Home of the Future


8 Min. Read

Multifamily properties are a popular option for affordable housing, with more than 44.2 million households renting their homes. The electrification of multifamily units and properties such as apartments, condos and townhomes is attractive for owners and tenants and is important in meeting climate goals, reducing pollution, and enhancing our electrical grid.

The multifamily home of the future includes various electrification technologies to make it smarter, more efficient, and climate-friendly and electrified homes can help property owners attract and retain tenants while fostering an environmentally sustainable community.

The Benefits of Installing EV Chargers

Installing electric vehicle (EV) chargers in your multifamily property is an attractive option for property owners and tenants alike and offers many benefits. According to projections, more than 125 million EV motorists, many of whom are renters, are expected to be on the roads by 2030, making the installation of these chargers essential for any property owner.

Upgrading your multifamily property with EV chargers will not only attract and retain residents but also helps to foster an environmentally sustainable community. Furthermore, it shows your commitment to reducing carbon emissions, making it more attractive to those looking for a greener living space.

As the market for electric vehicles takes off, requests for charging stations are bound to grow. Preemptively installing them in your multifamily property will make it a desirable choice for those looking to buy an EV, leading to acquiring new residents and keeping them satisfied.

Additionally, you can receive Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) points for installing charging stations and other renewable energy or technologies on the property, as installing EV chargers in your multifamily property is good for the environment and beneficial for your business in terms of marketing and monetization.

In short, offering EV charging gives you a competitive advantage over apartments, condos, and townhouses without this amenity and charging stations help you retain your tenants by providing them with the added convenience of charging at home. Your residents can rest easy knowing they won’t have to worry about finding a nearby public charging station or running out of power while driving.

Having charging stations on your property also provides an additional revenue stream by allowing you to charge a fee for the service.

The Benefits of Solar in Multifamily Housing

Solar power is one of the fastest-growing clean energy sources for multifamily housing, and the use of solar panels can reduce a building’s carbon footprint while providing a significant source of sustainable energy.

Using solar power in conjunction with EV chargers and other technologies can help reduce carbon emissions and increase the property’s energy efficiency, making it an attractive and innovative eco-friendly multifamily option for your residents.

Additionally, the cost of solar power has substantially decreased in recent years. The average homeowner can save between $20,000 and $97,000 over the life of their solar panel system, and multifamily owners will see an even greater return on their investment. Home solar systems further boost financial savings for electric vehicle (EV) owners.

With incentives such as solar tax credits, and net metering programs that allow property owners to sell excess energy back to the grid, solar power has become more affordable than ever before.

Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH)

According to projections, the use of solar power in the US is expected to increase significantly by 2030, with at least 300 megawatts of installed solar generating capacity required to meet this demand. This trend has been driven by the need for sustainable and eco-friendly energy sources with low carbon footprints.

One of the more notable incentives to make multifamily housing more affordable is the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program. SOMAH is specifically designed to assist multifamily property owners in installing solar energy systems. The program emphasizes implementing solar systems in multifamily dwellings to lower tenant’s energy bills and creates funding to make implementing these systems more affordable.

With SOMAH, incentive levels go up to a maximum of $3.50 per AC Watt for load-serving renters and $1.19 per AC Watt for common areas that are load-serving. These incentives are dependent upon the project’s tax credit usage and can be applied for in collaboration with your local utility provider.

The Benefits of Integrating Heat Pumps for Multifamily Units

Among these is the installation of heat pumps, which provide heating in winter and air conditioning in the summer. In cooler months, these popular systems extract heat from the outside air or ground, transferring it indoors, and releasing the cooled air back outside. This process allows heat pumps to provide heating and cooling while being more energy-efficient than other traditional HVAC systems.

Generally speaking, the upfront cost of a heat pump may be higher than a traditional HVAC system, but the long-term benefits are worth it as heat pumps are known for their low operating costs and long lifespans of up to 20 years with proper maintenance.

The US Department of Energy estimates that a heat pump can save approximately 50% on heating expenses compared to traditional heating systems, allowing property owners and managers to decrease the property’s environmental impact while also reducing operating costs.

Heat pump water heaters are also becoming increasingly popular as they consume significantly less electricity than electric storage water heaters. The cost savings can be further amplified when paired with solar power since this will offset the cost of operating the heat pump.

The Benefits of Smart Panels in Multifamily Buildings

No longer just an amenity for upscale urban rentals, smart connectivity systems are revolutionizing the way multifamily properties operate. A must-have for any property looking to enhance tenant comfort and increase energy efficiency, smart panels are an excellent way to reduce energy waste and operating costs.

These panels allow property owners and managers to monitor and control energy usage in real-time, providing insight into which systems are consuming the most energy and allowing for adjustments to be made as needed. You can also use this data to identify maintenance issues before they become costly problems, reducing repair and replacement costs over time.

In addition to energy efficiency benefits, smart panels also offer improved tenant comfort. With the ability to control lights, temperature, and even window shades, tenants can create a more personalized living experience while reducing energy waste. This leads to increased tenant satisfaction and retention rates, which can ultimately result in higher property values.

Many smart connectivity systems offer seamless integration with other devices, such as smart thermostats and smart locks, making them an even more valuable asset for multifamily properties. When a tenant unlocks their front door, for example, the smart thermostat can automatically adjust to their preferred temperature, providing a welcoming and comfortable environment as soon as they enter their unit.

The Savings of Electrification

Multifamily developers may worry that residents of their housing can’t afford the rent increases associated with this type of technology package, but the cost savings from improved energy efficiency and reduced maintenance costs can more than offset the initial investment while also providing an excellent amenity that increases tenant satisfaction.

Donald Davidoff, an apartment industry consultant with D2 Demand Solutions, believes “saving $25 in energy costs on a $900 rental may have more financial impact for residents of workforce housing than saving $50 on a $2,200 rent would have for urban professionals.”

Solutions and Incentives for Multifamily Electrification

Besides the SOMAH program, there are many federal, state, and local incentives available to help offset the upfront costs of electrification.

These programs recognize the importance of transitioning from combustion-based systems to more sustainable options, and they provide valuable resources for property owners and managers looking to switch to electric systems.

The Multifamily Affordable Housing Electrification Program (MAHEP)

Administered by the South Coast AQMD and implemented by AEA, MAHEP offers a variety of incentives to property owners and managers of low-income multifamily buildings to upgrade combustion-based NOx-producing equipment with high-efficiency electric systems.

This program is a valuable resource for those in the South Coast AQMD Territories who want to reduce their carbon footprint while saving money in the long run. This program offers a variety of incentives that can help offset the upfront costs of transitioning to electric systems.

The Smart Columbus Initiative

The Smart Columbus Initiative is taking proactive steps to promote the transition to smart city technology throughout Ohio. One of their key initiatives involves incentivizing local developers to incorporate smart connectivity systems in existing and new multi-unit properties.

One noteworthy effort by Smart Columbus was the distribution of $272,000 in rebates to fund the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in multi-unit buildings in central Ohio.

Home Electrification Rebate Program (HERP)

HERP is a program developed in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that supports the transition to sustainable electric systems in multifamily buildings. One of the significant advantages of HERP is its nationwide scope.

Property owners and managers across the country can take advantage of this program to reduce costs and their carbon footprint. The program provides valuable rebates and incentives to property owners and managers looking to upgrade their buildings’ combustion-based equipment with high-efficiency electric systems.

These are just a few programs and initiatives available to multifamily developers and property owners looking to transition their existing buildings from combustion-based systems to electric solutions. By taking advantage of these incentives, multifamily property owners can reduce their carbon footprint and provide a more sustainable living environment for their residents.

With the right strategies in place, electrifying multifamily dwellings can be an economically viable solution that benefits tenants and property owners.

Get Started on Your Next Property Upgrade

An electrified home is the home of the future, and multifamily EV charging stations and other electrification technologies present an excellent opportunity to increase revenues and your properties’ marketability. There are uncertainties in the electrification process that you can alleviate through a careful planning process and partnering with a business that has a proven track record of installing safe and reliable EV charging stations, solar panel integrations, heat pumps, and smart panels.

As the leading installer of EV charging stations and other electrification technologies in the US for multifamily properties, homeowners, and fleets, Qmerit is that company. With a proven reputation and deep expertise in EV charging implementation, we will stay with you from the beginning of your electrification project until the end.

No matter the size of your property or the scale of your project, Qmerit is here to help. And with over 269,000 EV charging station installations, 53,000 solar system integrations, and 86,700 electric panel upgrades, our network of certified electricians are qualified to install and maintain your technology – keeping you and your customers satisfied.

Contact Qmerit today for Electrification Made Easy™!

Author: Tom Bowen

Tom Bowen

President, Qmerit Solutions and Commercial Electrification