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Landlord Benefits of Eco-Friendly Appliances (and Other Green Changes)

Making Eco-Friendly Apartment Updates Creates Benefits for Landlords, Tenants, and the Environment
Transitioning to eco-friendly, “green” apartments benefits both landlords and tenants.

Your apartment units will eventually need new appliances. You may be tempted to replace them with garden-variety, low- to mid-priced devices to save money and keep rents low. But consider buying energy-efficient appliances. The equipment might cost more initially, but the savings and other benefits can quickly add up.

Besides slashing energy use and helping the environment, you reduce utility costs, increase the value of your apartment building, and may qualify for tax incentives and appliance rebates, depending on your state or county. New Yorkers can determine eligibility for such rebates on the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) website.

Reduce Water and Energy Usage

An eco-friendly appliance is designed to do one of two things: save electricity or save water. For energy, an easy way to start shopping is to consider only Energy Star appliances, which have a third-party certification that they use significantly less energy than standard products. The use of such devices will cut a unit’s greenhouse gas emissions while keeping utility bills low.

You can also convert your units’ gas stoves to energy-efficient electric models. Research has found that gas stoves produce toxic fumes that can lead to asthma and other respiratory ailments while emitting excess household greenhouse gas.

For water, look for Energy Star-certified washing machines and dishwashers. Also, look for WaterSense-certified appliances, which comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. Beyond the kitchen and laundry room, WaterSense products include toilets, showerheads, faucets, sprinklers, and other water flow accessories.

Support Composting—and Avoid Fines

You may not have considered a system that recycles food waste, but you should—particularly in light of the residential mandate passed by the New York City Council in June 2023. About one-third of food produced is wasted each year, and roughly half of the residential waste produced in New York is organic matter. Composting turns waste into nutrient-rich dirt that can fertilize plants, and curbside composting will be available—and required—in all five boroughs by October 2024.

According to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), enforcement will start six months later, in April 2025. At that time, landlords of non-compliant properties will start incurring fines:

  • Up to 8 units: $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second, $100 for the third
  • 9+ units: $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, $400 for the third

DSNY will distribute free compost bins as the program expands to Bronx, Staten Island and Manhattan, but residents can use any labeled bin (up to 55 gallons) with a secure lid. DSNY offers free composting bin decals

Additional Earth-Friendly Changes

In addition to the above recommendations, other ways to make apartment units “greener” include the following:

  • Invite natural light. Beyond energy-efficient LED light bulbs, consider installing natural light features, such as skylights or an additional window. These features are attractive to tenants, aesthetically pleasing, and can lead to higher rent payments and less tenant turnover
  • Choose healthy paint and cleaners. Traditional paints can contain volatile organic compounds that impair indoor air quality. For healthier air, choose paints with low VOC levels and encourage (or require) tenants who paint their units to do the same. When cleaning, swap harsh chemicals for natural alternatives that do the job equally well. For example, vinegar with water makes a great all-purpose cleaning alternative. Use apple vinegar for glass and white vinegar for surfaces.

With these ideas in mind, you can create environmentally smart apartment units that save money and provide a better living experience for tenants.

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