New! ENERGY STAR Tenant Space recognition is now available to eligible tenants. Learn more.
Energy efficiency is not just for businesses that own the space they occupy. Today there are many opportunities for renters to save energy and reduce operating costs without major capital investments to the building. For example, something as simple as turning off lights in unoccupied areas and adjusting thermostats can impact energy bills.
Many small business-owners pay their own utility bills, while others have the cost included in the rent. Either way, all tenants pay for their utilities in one way or another, so everyone can profit from energy efficiency.
If you pay your own utilities, investing in energy efficiency upgrades can reduce your monthly utility bills and create a comfortable work environment for you and your employees. And as an added bonus, customers walking through a comfortable store will spend more time shopping and possibly spend more money.
If utilities are included in your rent, you still have options, many of which cost little or nothing. With a smart energy strategy, you can increase the appearance and comfort of your business as much as if you owned the building. You may even be able to negotiate a lower rate with your landlord because of your efforts.
The following tips are specifically designed to help tenants save energy with little out-of-pocket costs.
- Adjust thermostats when space is unoccupied.
- Turn off lights when rooms are not occupied.
- Take advantage of winter daylight by leaving window blinds open.
- Disconnect unnecessary or unused equipment.
Low-cost upgrade options
- Install programmable thermostats.
- Install occupancy sensors in conference rooms or other areas not continuously occupied.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.
- Install awnings, window shades, or window films to keep out the summer sun and lower air-conditioning costs.
- Purchase ENERGY STAR certified office equipment that you can take with you if you move to another location.
- Caulk and weather-strip windows and doors.
- Fix leaky faucets and toilets to conserve water.
Tenants and landlords
Don’t be surprised if your landlord is just as interested as you are in energy efficiency as you are. As a tenant, your business will enjoy a reduction in monthly utility bills and an increase in comfort. Landlords are interested because they inherit a building that has increased in value and prestige. The following is an example of how one of our ENERGY STAR partners teamed up with their landlord to make energy efficiency a reality.
Snapshot of success
Diane and Bill Johns own the Coxsackie Antique Center in upstate New York. The building’s ambiance was cozy, but its atmosphere wasn’t, particularly in the winter. Frigid drafts swirled through the un-insulated building, freezing out the shop’s customers. After discussing this problem with their landlord, the Johnses spent $1,100 to insulate the building, and the landlord paid for a new roof. Annual energy savings amounted to over $400 (not including potential sales), which means the Johnses will recover their costs in less than three years. Both parties profited; the tenants slashed their operating costs and the landlord got a more valuable building. If the Johnses ever decide to relocate, the landlord can more easily attract tenants to this energy-efficient building.
- Get buying guidance and savings information on ENERGY STAR certified products.
- Learn how to make energy-efficient home improvements.
- “Find Green Space”
- “Green Lease Library”
- Institute for Market Transformation’s “Guide for Empowering Landlords and Tenants” (PDF, 12 MB)
- (Note: While this IMT Guide has only three reference to ENERGY STAR products, the IMT Small Business Guide has numerous ENERGY STAR references: to the Small Business Action Workbook, small business sector pages, Portfolio Manager and benchmarking, etc. so IMT is a pretty good collaborator as an external link.)