Each new year brings changes in the energy section, and many of those changes directly affect consumers. Below are four trends that can help consumers make and save money.
Investing in energy savings can result in lower interest rates
“One of the big trends I see is an increase in energy and water reduction projects at multi-family properties through the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac programs,” according to Solomon Rosenbaum, director of Green & Energy Services at GRS Group. “In a nutshell, these programs reward owners who invest in energy and/or water projects with lower interest rates.”
Solomon says that it’s often difficult to implement energy projects in these types of properties. “Sometimes, the owner is not interested in investing in projects where the tenant will recognize the energy savings,” he explains. “What really makes this program unique is that overall energy/water savings are evaluated for qualification and the party actually saving the money is not a factor.”
According to Rosenbaum, the 2018 requirement was 25% savings in either water or energy. “For 2019, the FHFA has required that 15% of the total 30% reduction must come from energy savings and the remaining 15% can come from a combination of either reduction type.”
Water savings lead to energy savings
Another trend Rosenbaum has noticed is an increased level of awareness in water savings that also lead to energy savings. “When it comes to irrigation, there are several products out there that control the watering based on moisture sensors and through integration with expected weather,” he says. “Low flow shower heads and sink aerators are becoming common place and energy savings are also recognized with them due to the reduced water heating requirements.”
“One interesting device I have come across is a shower head with a thermostatic control device,” Rosenbaum says. “Many people turn the shower on and walk away from it while the water gets up to the desired temperature.” And once that temperature is reached, he says the device reduces the water to a trickle to keep additional water from being wasted when no one is in the shower.
Saving energy through smart roofing
“The trend I am seeing right now has been a long time in the making, but we’re finally seeing homeowners actually ask how the roof they install on their home will impact their home’s energy use,” according to Todd Miller, president of Isaiah Industries, a manufacturer of specialty residential metal roofing.
“A home’s roof is the perfect place to harness energy through various solar collection units, but it’s also the place to save energy by keeping heat out of your home during the summer.”
So, how is this achieved? Through a variety of ways, according to Miller. For example:
- Mounting of traditional rooftop solar panels.
- Solar shingles that are integrated right into the overall roof system.
- Reflective pigments that keep attics naturally cooler by reflecting away radiant heat.
- Thermal breaks built into the roof systems which stop the conductive flow of heat from the roof top to the attic space.
- Attic ventilation to help exhaust out any gained heat.
Homeowners who take advantage of this trend are finding summer energy savings of 20% and more,” Miller says.
Making money through solar farming
Consumers with farmland may be able to sell it to power companies, according to Michael D. Minton, a Florida attorney who works with land developers and agribusiness to leverage the state’s sunny weather as a renewable energy source.
“Existing farmland has proven to be attractive to the power companies because they tend to have less wetland and endangered species obstacles and some isolation to help avoid not-in-my-back yard conflicts,” Minton says. “Both abandoned citrus groves and cattle ranch property are ideal for solar energy development.”
He says the property can either be sold or leased. “And then the power company itself will either develop it as a solar field or an investor group will come in and develop the solar field, and then sell power onto the grid through a power purchase agreement (PPA).”
Minton says that some leases have been negotiated for as long as 30 years. “For growers, a lease can be a way to take the peaks and valleys out of their revenue stream, and they will have a steady check coming in for the life of the lease if they execute it correctly.”