How to Upgrade If You Are a Renter


Carbon emissions do not care what kind of building they come from, unfortunately the financial world offering green upgrades do. We're sorry, at this time it isn't very convenient for renters to do programs like this, we're working on that. 

There are four ways we've identified that it can be done, which we'll share below. If we can help we'd like to, please reach out. 

Approach 1 - if your landlord applies (apartment buildings of 1-4 units)

The Green Mortgage refinance can be available to rental properties too of 1-4 units. The spirit of the program is that the financial institution takes on the cost of upgrading the property, adding it to the monthly mortgage, which in turn is reduced by reducing the property's interest rate and by reducing utility bills. However, many renters pay some of their own utility bills (usually not water/sewer bills, but most of the time electric and usually heat). So, renters and landlords should discuss how the costs/savings will come about - between rent, mortgage, water/sewer bills, electric and gas bills - and adjust as needed so all parties are willing participants in the program.

We can help make sure all parties are aware and trust the results. Tell us more about the property here and let's set up a time to talk.


Approach 2 - if your landlord applied (apartment buildings of 5+ units)

Another program is available to apartment buildings of 5 or more units, known as PACE financing (Property Assessed Clean Energy). Like above, renters and landlords should figure out the distribute of savings/costs, but PACE can be an efficient way to finance larger buildings. We encourage you to check out PACE Wisconsin for more. 


Approach 3 - if your utility offers "Pay-As-You-Save" style On-Bill Financing programs

What we consider the "Gold Standard" of residential energy efficiency, but is unfortunately not common in Wisconsin (the only one offering this program that we know of in Wisconsin is the Vernon Electric cooperative). We strongly believe ALL utilities should offer this program and we will help anyone make the case for it.

Pay-As-You-Save (see the video here) is an innovative program where the utility pays for upgrades to the property, and they claim a portion of the savings on the same utility bill with a small fee (known as a "tariff") less than the savings generated by upgrades. Properly done, Pay-As-You-Save is not a loan or debt, and it can transfer between residents or renters, since you can't take insulation or solar panels with you when you leave! The next resident sees all the savings and continues paying the fee on the utility bill for that property. For example, a resident might see $50 reduction on their monthly utility bills after energy efficiency improvements, but pay only $30 per month (depending on projects and program terms), such that they are savings every month.

Again, most utilities in Wisconsin are NOT yet offering this, but they absolutely could. Communities with rural electric cooperatives can do so right now, without Wisconsin Public Service Commission approval, while investor-owned or municipal utilities could do so now too, with PSC approval. Once method of making this happen in small towns and rural areas is the USDA "Rural Energy Savings Program" (RESP), where the federal government can capitalize a Pay-As-You-Save program. In fact, that is how Vernon Electric Cooperative started theirs.

Let us know if Green Homeowners United can help make this happen. We believe Pay-As-You-Save style programs are the best, most equitable way to help tens of thousands of homes, be they owner-occupied or rental.


Approach 4 - Reach out to us, Carbon Equity fund 

If none of the above are options, please email [email protected]. We are working with the financial institutions to explore a carbon equity fund that will allow us to help make energy-efficient and more comfortable apartments too, without the landlord or renter(s) having to pay more for it. This project will be down the road, but reach out and we can explore if it might be feasible for you. 

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