Tag Archives: Minol USA

Great Reminders for Keeping Multifamily Housing Green!

As part of your ongoing Resident Initiatives, make sure you have optimized each unit’s bathrooms for maximum efficiency. A simple analysis of your property’s water usage by a Minol Water Conservation Expert can help reduce your monthly expense by 40%. Contact Us for more information!

Lori Francis
National Water Conservation Manager for Minol
603.672.3004 or lfrancis@minolusa.com

Go Green in your apartment, one month at a time [Infographic] | ecogreenlove


These may seem like simple tasks but all require significant time and effort, as well as a trained eye to know exactly what to look for and when. In addition, dealing directly with utility providers can be challenging if you aren’t accustomed to navigating the processes.

1) Utility rate errors. You may not be charged the correct rate. Check the provider website and compare the posted rate schedule to your bill. If your building is multifamily and you are being billed a commercial rate, it is likely higher than a residential rate. Also, there are some rates based on occupancy. These occupancy numbers on occasion on are reverted to a factor of “1 occupant” if the numbers aren’t updated by the owner. The result is a rate increase. Rates may also be based on meter size. Find out sizes of your meters and compare with your bill to make sure it is reflected correctly. Contact the provider to find out if the meter associated with the account qualifies for a lower rate. If the building does qualify for a lower rate, you may be able to request up to a 5 year credit of the incorrect rate you were charged

2) Utility providers have charged the account taxes. In several states utility taxes aren’t allowed to be charged and yet, the provider charges them anyway. For example, Texas utilities  were charging tax on utilities. If you find taxes on your bill, contact your PUC or attorney to find out if the type of tax on your bill is allowed and how far back you can request a refund if applicable. If you’ve been incorrectly charged, you can estimate the taxes you’ve paid and send a request for a refund to the provider going back 5 years or more.

3) Meter read error. If your consumption has increased more than 15% over the previous month and the previous year, same month, you have a problem. First check to see if the previous read is the same as the end read last month. If not, there’s a definite meter read error. Next, assuming no known leak or work requiring water (like filling a pool, power washing, etc.) has been done, look for a leak. Check to see if the meter is running when the building is unoccupied or residents are likely sleeping. Have a qualified maintenance supervisor check the meter after midnight and take a video if the meter is moving. Utilities are quick to say there is no leak without thoroughly investigating. You will need proof either way. If no leak is apparent, request a re-read of the meter. Be sure to have an onsite maintenance team member there when the utility company re-reads the meter to verify their findings.

4) Estimated reads. Estimated reads can have a very negative impact on your budget by hitting you with an expense that is too high or low. Estimating too low may result in an immense true-up expense on a future bill. Stay vigilant about calling the provider and requesting a “true read.” The provider may be having trouble accessing the meter. Schedule an appointment and meet the meter reader to ensure your read gets correctly trued up.

5) Erroneous deposits. If you are charged a deposit, always investigate it before you pay. Even if this is a new property you may not need to pay a deposit if the same owner name has credit in excellent standing with the utility provider. Call the provider and they will look up the credit standing for the legal entity name. If you can’t get the deposit waived, find out how long the deposit hold will be and make a calendar note to reach out for a future refund.

6) Charging late fees during the grace period. If you have a late fee on your bill, check your records to see if you paid by the due date. If you have proof of the payment date, call the provider and request the late fee be removed.

7) Multiple bills for the same account/same period. If you receive two or more bills for the same account in a bill period, call the provider for an explanation. Unless the dates line up perfectly, there’s a duplicate bill issue to be credited.

8) Bill use/cost duplicate. The use or cost amount of the bill is exactly the same as the previous bill. Unless this is a flat rate bill versus a bill based on actual consumption, it may be an estimated bill. Call the provider and ask for an actual consumption based bill.

9) Overlapping bill periods. If the beginning or end dates are the same as the previous bill overlap you may be charged twice for those days. Call the provider and request a credit for the overlapping days.

10) Zero usage on bill. The meter is likely not working or the provider’s process isn’t catching the read and charging you. Don’t let this for more than one billing period or you will eventually receive a large true up bill.

Don’t let your revenue go down the drain or out the window! By not auditing utility bills, many portfolios are paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars in extra fees and incorrect rates. It’s worth your time to get to know your bills or assign a skilled analyst to manage it for you.

Preventative HVAC Equals Energy Savings

No Cost and Low Cost Preventative HVAC Equals Energy Savings

Heating and cooling accounts for approximately 56 percent of the energy use in a typical U.S. building, making HVAC the largest energy expense hitting your bottom line. HVAC systems that are not regularly maintained quickly turn into energy gluts that can decimate your utility budget. Systems not properly cleaned and repaired can use up to 25 percent more energy just to function.

Completing preventative maintenance on HVAC systems is well beyond cleaning the coils and changing filters. There are many sources for excellent checklists, including the EPA and the manufacturers of the systems you have in place.

Below are some essential steps that can be done in house to assess the condition of the system, as well as other conservation opportunities for little or no expense. The steps can be used on central or individual HVAC systems:

  1. Use manufacturer data sheets to start your check. If you no longer have the hard copies, look online. These sheets will show optimum performance guidelines and steps to keep the system in excellent working order.
  2. Watch that thermostat or time clock! Scrutinize the settings and timing to be sure someone isn’t tampering with them to increase unnecessary energy use. Is your system set to reduce energy usage when occupancy is low such as evening hours in offices, business centers and common areas?
  3. Is anything blocking air intake/exhaust returns or anything being stored around the system that could impede proper air flow to the system?
  4. Do you have proper insulating blinds and shades on windows to reduce heat loss in the evenings in offices and common areas? Are they in good repair and being closed nightly?
  5. Outlets are a source for air loss. Use safety plugs on all unused outlets to prevent heat loss.
  6. Clean all dirt on working and movable components. This includes coils, fan motors, ducts, grilles, drain pans that may be blocked, dampers, heat exchangers and the general exterior of the system as well.
  7. Open access doors and check for loose wiring, turning components, fire dampers, valves and replace as needed. Run the system through a heating cycle and check to see that automatic dampers and valves are opening properly and closing tightly.
  8. Check to see that the fan is rotating in the proper direction and the speed equals the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  9. Replace any loose or worn belts or correct belt tension. Check for drive misalignment.
  10. Verify indicated temperature against actual outtake temperature.
  11. Discontinue use of unneeded exhaust fans, check pump suction and discharge pressures: Do they match manufacturer requirements?  Reduce impeller size for greater energy savings where it doesn’t interfere with manufacturer recommendations.
  12. Install timing devices to reduce heating during low occupancy hours. Close air ducts in little or unused areas not subject to freezing pipes.

Once you’ve completed your preventative maintenance, make sure you set up a log to keep track of your work and the system’s operating standards.  Next, compare your energy use (not cost as rates fluctuate) to the same month in the previous year taking into account heating degree day variables. Your goal is to mirror the manufacturer’s use metrics for your particular system and maintain or reduce energy usage year over year or identify when the system needs to be repaired or updated based on the energy results. 

By taking the time to thoroughly check your HVAC system, you will not only save energy but late night emergency calls from disgruntled residents and uncomfortable explanations to owners about why their building isn’t being maintained. Preventative HVAC is time and energy well spent!

Source: EPA