How to Save Utility Costs in Your Rental Apartment Building


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My existing clients and other landlords frequently ask me what is the best way to reduce utility costs on their apartment buildings.

One of the simplest solutions is to change all of the toilets to more efficient, low volume models.

In 2009, the City of Calgary expanded its residential toilet rebate program to include multi-unit properties. Since then, approximately 2500 water-guzzling toilets have been replaced in local apartments, condos, and other multi-unit dwellings. This policy of providing a rebate to property owners is consistent through out Canada and most cities in the US as well.

For each 13 or more liter toilet the gets replaced, the city of Calgary arranged a rebate of $50.00 to be applied to the building’s monthly water bill. In one of our buildings, replacing 250 old, high volume toilets mean a rebate of $12,500.00. Considering the value of the rebate, we note that we wouldn’t have been able to convert to low flush toilets at such an accelerated pace without government help.

Not only does the rebate help to subsidize the capital cost of the toilet replacement, but immediate reductions in water consumption and sewage disposal charges are observed, bringing the payback period to within a year for an average apartment housing two tenants per suite. After that, the return on investment works out to over $69.00 per tenant per year. The final tally indicated the 250 toilets replaced in the complex translated to over $15,000.00 per year in water and sewer utility savings.

So who is taking advantage of the program and all of these savings? The city of Calgary has approved applicants ranging from single-family residential landlords to large multi-unit residential buildings that may replace up to 500 toilets but most other cities have no limit what so ever.

The application process is extremely simple and the requirements are clearly outlined on your local town council website. You can access both the application and the requirements for approval through most general reception telephone inquiries or by asking a salesperson at a local plumbing store.

Even the selection of a quality toilet has been made easy since the city created its eligible low water use toilet list, which includes over 25 different manufacturers and well over 150 models. Among the qualifications to make the final list, toilets had to meet standards set by an independent maximum performance test, which ensures the toilets are capable of removing greater than average mass loadings in a single flush.

How long do you have to take advantage of such a rebate program? Most cities offer these incentives over a 3-5 year period; so applying sooner rather than later will assure you get in on the opportunity while it remains available.

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Updated: March 24, 2019 — 11:40 am