A bill proposed this month in the Iowa House of Representatives would increase transparency around energy efficiency and utility costs in rental units.
The bill, HSB 635, states that landlords of properties containing at least 12 units would need to disclose average utility costs in writing to prospective tenants, prior to issuing a lease.
Properties with low rent are often older and may have structural issues–like leaky windows or dripping pipes— which can lead to wasted resources and higher utility bills for tenants. The Iowa Environmental Council is encouraging support of the bill, saying it would create incentives for more efficient rental properties.
Iowa’s energy efficiency policy has seen the greatest decline of all U.S. states in 2018, according to a report released earlier this month.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy pushed Iowa back five spots to #24 on their 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The scorecard ranks states based on state policies and programs in six areas: utilities, buildings, transportation, state government, combined heat and power, and appliance standards.
The council attributes Iowa’s downfall to a bill passed in April that caps spending on energy efficiency programs by public utilities and allows customers to opt out of a once-obligatory tax towards such programs. Many have criticized Senate File 2311 for increasing Iowa’s carbon footprint and harming its communities overall.
CGRER member Charles Stanier, associate professor of chemical engineering, explained to the Daily Iowan that spending on energy efficiency benefits all by reducing utility bills for private enterprises and taxpayer-supported buildings, like schools.
“So while the average Iowan puts $60 a year into the program, the money is invested in energy efficiency projects with rapid payback [on average], and they see much more than $60 per year of value throughout Iowa’s economy,” he said.
Iowa may have taken major steps backwards, the majority of states are investing more in energy efficiency. The U.S. as a whole spent $8 billion on energy efficiency programs in 2017, generating enough in savings to power 2.5 million homes for a year.
Most improved is New Jersey, who made it’s way to #8 on the scorecard. The worst state overall for energy efficiency is Wyoming, while Massachusetts is #1.
Two Iowa-based businesses and one school district were recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday for energy efficiency in Region 7.
Pella Corporation – a window and door manufacturer based in Pella, Iowa – was one of eight businesses nationwide recognized as a 2016 Energy Star Partner of the Year for Outstanding Achievements in Energy Efficiency. The company is being recognized for manufacturing Energy Star certified products. Additionally, Pella Corporation has partnered with Lawrence Berkeley National Labs – based at the University of California-Berkeley – for developing automated shading technology. The company also sponsored the 2015 Solar Decathlon Education Days to teach students about energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Principal Real Estate Investors was recognized by EPA as a Partner of the Year for Energy Management. The Des Moines-based company was selected for its efforts which reduced energy consumption by 1.8 percent and for achieving 2015 Energy Star certification at 65 buildings, including 60 re-certifications. Principal also received an “A” rating on the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investing annual survey.
Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) was recognized as an Energy Star Partner of the Year in Sustained Excellence for energy efficient facilities and educational efforts. Three new DMPS buildings achieved Energy Star status in 2015, bringing the grand total of Energy Star-certified buildings district-wide to 49. DMPS has saved more than $2 million since first implementing its energy management approach in 2008. DMPS is the largest school district in Iowa, serving more than 32,000 students.
Principal and DMPS were both honored as part of a joint effort between EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Awards will be presented to recipients during a ceremony in Washington D.C. on April 13.
This week’s On the Radio segment looks at new standards for refrigerators which could reduce energy consumption by up to 25 percent. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.
Transcript: Refrigerator standards
New energy efficiency standards that went into place for refrigerators in September are expected to save customers on utility bills while also reducing their carbon footprint.
This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.
The Department of Energy estimates that the standards will reduce refrigerator energy consumption by 20 to 25 percent. This is expected to save households up to 200 dollars on electricity bills annually. This is the first update to energy standards for refrigerators since 2001.
Long-term estimates from the Department of Energy show that over the next 30 years the new standards will reduce national energy consumption the equivalent of five percent of total energy used in the U.S. in a single year. It is also estimated to reduce carbon emissions by 344 million tons during the same period.
For more information about the new refrigerator standards and appliance rebates from Iowa utility companies, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.