Electrification upsides, IRA benefits, and a sample email
There are hundreds of billions of dollars in incentives available to help make American homes more energy efficient and climate friendly — and the vast majority of them are only available to homeowners. But if you’re a renter, don’t despair: You still live in a home that somebody owns. The challenge is making the property owner aware of the benefits of electrification and all the tax credits and rebates that are available to them.
The most important first step you can take to encourage them to electrify your building is to start a conversation. The message most likely to be interesting to a landlord is that they might be leaving a lot of money on the table to upgrade their property. But different messages will appeal to different landlords and property owners, so we’ve gathered a variety of pointers below on how to encourage your landlord to upgrade your home.
One important note: If your landlord currently pays for your gas bill but not your electric bill — as is common in some cities — swapping out your fossil fuel appliances for electric ones will increase the monthly utility bills you have to pay (even if the energy bill for your home overall is going down). Depending on your situation, that may be a reason to proceed with caution.
“Electrification” means swapping out appliances that run on natural gas, oil, propane, and other fossil fuels with better alternatives that run on electricity. This could mean replacing an oil furnace with a heat pump, replacing a gas stove with an induction stove, or replacing a gas water heater with a heat pump water heater.
All of these upgrades will make your building safer, healthier, and better for the climate. Because electric machines are so much more efficient, they may also lower your utility bills and improve the value of your landlord’s property.
The best time to start a conversation with your landlord about electrification is when an appliance like a gas-powered stove or water heater is failing and might need repair. (Once the appliance is dead, your landlord will be under more time pressure and may not want to look into switching to a different technology.)
Your landlord’s priorities may be influenced by factors like where you live and what kinds of properties they own. They might respond best if you focus on the fact that electrification will appeal to future tenants. Or they might be more receptive to hearing about how much money they can save. It’s possible that they’re already concerned about climate change and will be interested in learning how to shrink the carbon footprint of their buildings, but even if they’re not, there are still so many great reasons to go electric.
Here’s some information you may want to share with them:
Electrification makes buildings cheaper to operate. The average household can save $650 per year using electric appliances instead of fossil fuel alternatives, a Rewiring America analysis showed.
Electrification raises a building’s value. Installing a heat pump can increase the value of a home by up to 7 percent, according to one study.
Electrification is better for the planet. Natural gas usage in our buildings is a driver of climate change. Energy use in buildings is the source of about one-third of all U.S. emissions. Electrification is necessary to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and protect our shared climate.
Electrification protects your health. Gas appliances worsen indoor air quality and release dangerous pollutants — even when those appliances are not in use. More than 12 percent of all childhood asthma cases can be linked to the use of a gas stove, a recent study found.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a federal law that went into effect in 2022. It’s packed with billions of dollars aimed at addressing climate change. The good news is that your landlord can probably tap into some of that funding.
The incentives they qualify for will depend partly on what type of building you live in — and whether the landlord lives there too.
For single-family dwellings, your landlord can use our IRA savings calculator to estimate how much they may be able to save on electrification. Here are some of the key IRA programs you may want to point them toward:
If you live in an apartment building with at least four stories, major improvements to energy efficiency, such as electrifying the heating system, can qualify for a significant tax deduction.
If you live in a multifamily building supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are grants and loans available to fund investments in energy and water efficiency, climate resilience, indoor air quality, and decarbonization.
If your landlord manages a building where at least half of the tenants are low-income or moderate-income, they may be able to access substantial rebates for heat pumps, electric stoves, electric water heaters, and more. Regardless of tenant income, your landlord may also be eligible for cash back if they’re planning a retrofit that will achieve at least 15 percent building-wide energy savings.
So you’re ready to approach your landlord about electrification. Whether you’re feeling excited or intimidated or something in between, here’s an email template that can give you a starting point.
Hi [landlord’s name],
This is [your name]. I’m a tenant in [address/unit], and I wanted to let you know about the federal incentives that make it cheaper for property owners to replace older appliances powered by oil or gas with new, clean, electric appliances like heat pumps, electric and induction stoves, energy-efficient water heaters, and so on.
There are billions of dollars available in tax credits and rebates, the changes make the average household $650 per year cheaper to operate, and they can even increase the value of a home. According to energy and health experts, all-electric homes are safer, have healthier air quality, and have lower utility bills compared with other homes.
As you know, my unit has [list of fossil fuel appliances here]. Would you be open to replacing [fossil fuel appliance] with a [electric appliance]?
Here’s some more information about electrification and the Inflation Reduction Act:
Please let me know if you would be interested in talking more about this.
When you bring up electrification for the first time, your landlord may want to read more about the IRA and what it means for them. They may also be curious about the importance of changing out home appliances or the health risks of fossil fuels.
Here are some resources that could be useful:
Our team at Rewiring America put together a high-level guide to some of the most important programs in the IRA.
We’ve also created a Personal Electrification Planner tool to help homeowners assess the costs, benefits, and prioritization of going electric, as well as an entire “Electrify your home” website at homes.rewiringamerica.org (the site you’re on right now).
The National Apartment Association published a piece on what the IRA means for rental housing providers that details the impact on rebates, energy-efficient credits, loans, building codes and more.
Upgrading to a heat pump for a multifamily building is very different than upgrading a single-family home. NRDC published a good multifamily HVAC retrofit guide here.
In addition to federal programs like the IRA, there are many state and local programs that encourage landlords to make their buildings more climate-friendly. Some of these were created using funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, including through its home energy rebates program. Others have been created independently by states or municipalities.
If nothing is available yet in your state, keep an eye out. More programs are likely to be established over the next several years as Inflation Reduction Act dollars aimed at electrification continue to reach state and local governments.
Here are a few state and local programs worth checking out:
A New York City Housing Authority program replaces steam radiators with specially designed heat pumps that can be installed in windows.
In Oregon, a program created in the summer of 2023 gives rebates to landlords who install heat pumps and make other electrical upgrades at rental properties, including rented houses, apartments, manufactured homes, single rooms, and recreational vehicles.
The Building Decarbonization Coalition compiled a list of all state and local rebate programs available in California. Check it out here.