New Year, New Laws

Every year, we get new laws and this year there are a few good ones that should help raise the energy efficiency of new buildings and large appliances in rental apartments.

From the NY Daily News

JUICE SAVER: New appliances purchased for rental apartments have to be Energy Star certified, potentially reducing utility payments for tenants. The federal Environmental Protection Agency certifies certain appliances as energy-efficient.

EASY BEING GREEN: New city construction projects must be built according to environmentally sound principles. The edict will affect about $12 billion in construction over a 10-year period. The law is intended to reduce pollution and to cut costs in city-owned buildings by using energy more efficiently.

Write a letter to your council person and thank them for these laws and ask for more like these.

How are the authorities going to enforce the Juice Saver?
Do I have to tell them I live in a rental when I buy an appliance?  
Couldn't I lie and say I live in a house that I own?
I think they are talking about large appliances like refrigerators, ovens, etc. But you are welcome to subsidize your landlord and raise your electric bills by skirting this effort.
The Juice Saver is a good law - hell, a great one. But why make it applicable only to renters?  This will have the effect of raising rent (as landlords shell out more to buy more fuel efficient appliances and pass the cost on to renters).  Meanwhile, renters are more likely than homeowners to live in apartments, which due to their design are more fuel efficient than detached houses.  Renters were already being efficient than homeowners prior to this law.  The city is trying to squeeze water out of Gibralter while there's a giant sponge just down the street.

As for Easy Being Green: I can think of only two "Green" buildings in Manhattan off the top of my head: 4 Times Square (PDF!) and my favorite, 1400 Fifth Avenue.  Actually, here's a website with a lot more green buildings: GreenHomeNYC.

I think the issue is that energy efficient appliances cost more upfront (and paid for by the landlord) while the return on this investment is enjoyed by the renter, who pays the electric bill. This disconnect in investment and return is solved by regulation. It might cost the renter slightly more per month - we are talking about a couple of hundred dollar difference perhaps for a useful life of 15-30 years. That works out to less than a dollar a month, but the electrical savings could be in the $5/month range.

For homeowners, the need for regulation is less necessary, although very tempting, we just need to convince them to do something in their economic interest! But unfortunately people always reach for the lowest prices item on the self and who cares about the running costs - that's for another day!