Sustainability Programs For Renters

Community Development Agency
Picture of family on couch


Energy Efficiency Programs for Renters

People who rent their homes face challenging barriers when it comes to making energy efficiency improvements. Most projects that require a building permit (furnace, water heater, or window replacement, insulation upgrades, and more) also require property owner approval. Additionally, most renters do not want to pay for property improvements to a home they do not own. We encourage renters to have discussions about equipment upgrades and share resources with their property owners*. For these types of upgrades, we recommend renters inform their property owners of rebate program opportunities when discussions are being held around replacing old equipment.

Renters can make energy efficiency improvements for projects that do not require building permits (e.g., switching to LED light bulbs). Please continue below for information on these types of projects and assistance programs that can help cover the cost of upgrades.

*The energy efficiency projects discussed on this page refer to upgrades of equipment and conditions in existing housing units and not the repair of housing units necessary to be compliant with the Uniform Housing Code. Visit the Environmental Health and Safety Housing Page for more information on inspections for rental housing units.


Projects That Require Property Owner Approval and/or Investment

  • Furnace upgrades
  • Switching to a heat pump for space heating
  • Insulation and air sealing improvements
  • Water heater replacements
  • Duct replacement or sealing

Renters in single family units (including 1-4 unit duplexes) who are in conversation with their property owners about upcoming mechanical equipment replacements (for example, furnaces and water heaters) can refer property owners to the following rebate programs to help pay for efficient replacement options:

  • BayREN Home+ (rebates for single family energy efficiency upgrades)
  • Electrify Marin (rebates for switching from gas to efficient electric appliances)

Renters in multifamily units (in 5+ unit buildings) can refer property owners or managers to the BayREN Bay Area Multifamily Building Enhancements (BAMBE) program which includes no-cost project management support and rebates for energy efficient retrofits.


Projects that Do Not Require Property Owner Approval and/or Investment

  • Switching light bulbs to LEDs
  • Installing smart power strips
  • Installing faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads
  • Participating in a demand response program
  • Participating in a pay for performance program

No Cost Energy Efficiency Kits

Upgrading light bulbs from compact fluorescent (CFL) or incandescent to LED bulbs is a relatively cheap and easy way to save energy in the home. LED bulbs use less energy, have a long lifespan, can dim, and come in different temperatures (light color). Installing a smart power strip can help cut down on vampire loads, which refers to devices that draw power when plugged in but are turned off. Faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads help reduce water use by adding air pressure to faucets and shower heads, they also help reduce energy use from the water heater.

Renters in the Bay Area can take advantage of programs that provide LED bulbs, faucet aerators, and smart power strips at no-cost.

Demand Response and Pay for Performance Programs

Renters can also participate in demand response programs (DRPs). A DRP works by residents signing up for a DRP service and connecting their utility information. The DRP will send out notices of when to reduce energy consumption when demand on the grid is high or when electricity is expensive. Some DRPs will send users no-cost or discounted equipment to help them save energy like smart thermostats or smart plugs.

HomeIntel is what's known as a Pay for Performance Program. Pay for Performance Programs work by helping their users save energy in the home with behavior change and referrals to other energy efficiency programs. The HomeIntel program is provided at no cost to PG&E customers and it includes a free Smart Audit and personal energy coach.


Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

Marin residents who meet income thresholds can qualify for utility bill assistance and direct install energy efficiency and weatherization programs. Programs that provide direct install of energy efficiency and weatherization projects would need landlord approval, but the work can be done at no-cost to the occupant or property owner.

Please visit program websites for information on how to apply and eligibility requirements.