Plugging into Multifamily - The Official Blog of AUM

Energy Outlook - February 2015

Posted by Alison Hoss on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 @ 10:30 AM

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Back to Normal Levels - Within 1% of 5-Year Average

EIA’s latest Storage Report measured storage levels at 2,428 BCF, a whopping 468 BCF above the same period in 2014.  Remarkably, this is climbing to within 1% of the 5-year average level of 2,457 BCF and 24% above last years’ levels.  Despite the severe snow storms the Midwest and Northeast experienced, moderate temperatures dampened gas withdrawals from working supply. Storage levels in all three regions (East, West and Producing regions) were above their year-ago levels by 254 BCF, 66 BCF, and 148 BCF, respectively.

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Weather Forecast: Mild Temperatures for the Remainder of Winter

Temperature Outlook

The past few weeks brought record snowfall in the Northeast and Midwest and prices continued to fall. February looks to bring below average temperatures to the middle of the country and above average temps west of the Rockies.  The 3-month forecast continues to show above average temps west of the Rockies with the regions seeing below average temps shrinking to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and the Central Plains.  The East Coast forecast looks to see normal temperatures throughout the remainder of winter.

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Energy Prices 

Natural Gas

This week Natural Gas prices fell to a new 32-month low, settling at $2.584/MMBtu.  With predictions of lower than expected gas withdrawals, natural gas prices continue to drop.  Storage levels have not experienced large withdrawals and edge closer to matching the 5-year average.  The temperature outlook for the remainder of winter looks to be at or above normal temps (except for Texas and the Central Plains).  All indicators point to prices staying low. 

Today’s early prices for March 2015 continued trading at the $2.59 level, while March Crude Oil is up at $52.23/barrel and heating oil is up 2.24% to $1.809/gallon.  The gas strip prices for 2016 through 2021 all closed at all-time lows yesterday.  Gas supply helped to drive prices down.  While domestic production remained relatively flat, imports from Canada were up 2.9% last week with increased imports to the Northeast and Midwest.

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Electricity

The U.S average retail price of electricity came in at 10.35 ¢/kWH in January down from the prior month of 10.80 ¢/kWH. As natural gas prices go, so goes electricity prices.  The largest change in electric rates came from significant hikes in utility default service rates; especially in the Northeast and Midwest.

Bottom Line

Winter is at the Half-Way Point and We're Way Ahead of Last Year

Continued mild temperatures (not snowfall) and increased working gas in storage drove natural gas prices down to 32-month historic lows. Average to above average temperatures predicted for most of the country for the remainder of winter bodes well for continued stable and low natural gas prices.  Similar to gas, electric prices have shown a drop in prices.

 

 

Why_AUM

Founded in 1994,  AUM provides the most complete utility management solution to multifamily. For a no-obligation NOI Analysis and Program Plan that demonstrates what AUM can do to help your bottom line, click the button here.

  No-Obligation NOI Analysis

 

 

Tags: Energy cost, Energy consumption, Energy Commodity Purchasing, Energy services, Energy Efficiency

Nomar Garciaparra, Mia Hamm, and Burt Jacobs of Life is Good to Headline Day 2 at NAA

Posted by Dave Carpenter on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 @ 02:44 PM

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Welcome to day two of the National Apartment Association Education Conference and Expo (Twitter:  #NAAEduConf)here in beautiful Bean-town!

Today's conference has a great lineup of speakers!  Nomar Garciaparra, the famed shortstop of the Boston Red Sox, and his wife, USA Women's Soccer trailblazer and the greatest women's soccer player of all time, Mia Hamm, are set to speak at the General Session at 2:30 PM.

In the morning, Life is Good Co-Founder and Chief Executive Optimist Burt Jacobs is speaking on the power of Optimism and where is can take you in life.

The action in Booth 761 for American Utility Management (Twitter: @AUM_Chicago) has been impressive.  If you are at the show, stop by for a Sam Adams Beer and insights on multifamily energy management!

Tags: Utility expense Management, Energy management, Energy consumption, Multifamily, Utilities, Cost cutting, Bill Processing, Resident Billing, Energy services, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Benchmarking, AUMScore, Boston, Business Intelligence, NAA, Press coverage, NAA Education Conference & Exposition

Roger Dow Leads Spirited First Session at NAA in Boston!

Posted by Dave Carpenter on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 @ 02:51 PM

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What an inspiring first session at the National Apartment Association Education Conference and Expo in Boston (@NAAEduConf)!  Roger Dow, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Travel Association, and former Marriott executive, gave an uplifting pep talk to a packed room!

Roger's talk centered around empowering people to make the difference in any organization.  Using companies like Harley-Davidson as an example of creating enthusiasm within an organization, he talked about ensuring that every employee believes they make a difference.  did you know that Harley-Davidson actually encourages their employees to get Harley-Davidson Tattoos!?!?  I'm thinking of giving employee incentives for the most creative AUM multifamily energy efficiency tattoos.  Perhaps one of our valued colleagues will even get the AUM Score energy efficiency benchmarking logo tattooed!


So what creates an enthusiastic company?  Roger spoke of four basic tenants:

    • Quality
    • Trust
    • Value
    • Relationships - with vendors, suppliers, and customers

At AUM, we aim to be THE Energy Management partner to the multifamily industry.  As we continue to to provide the tools to make multifamily energy management easier, faster, and most importantly, more effective for property owners, we hope that you find our products, AND OUR PEOPLE, provide the Quality, Value, and Trust that you seek in an energy and utility management partner!

Stop by booth 761 here at NAA and check out our new AUM Advanced Analytics tool, the most comprhenive energy expense reporting tool in multifamily!

If you can't stop by, follow us on Twitter (@AUM_Chicago) for the latest on multifamily energy management!

Tags: Energy cost, Utility expense Management, Energy management, Multifamily, Bill Processing, Resident Billing, Energy services, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Benchmarking, AUMScore, Data analysis, Data collection, Data capture, Business Intelligence, NAA, Press coverage, NAA Education Conference & Exposition

We're blogging LIVE at National Apartment Association Expo in Boston!

Posted by Dave Carpenter on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 @ 02:53 PM

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Welcome to our LIVE blog site during the NAA Education and Expo in Boston!  You can follow us on Twitter (@AUM_Chicago) and follow the show (@NAAEduConf)!

If you are at the Conference, be sure to visit the AUM Green Monster in Booth 761!  So if you can't make it to Fenway Park for a baseball experience you can come to us for a multifamily baseball experience, complete with beer and peanuts!

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At AUM, we announced the release of our new AUM Advanced Analytics tool, to be unveiled at the NAA show.  AUM has harnessed the power of big data for faster, customized multifamily energy management decision-making.  As the premier energy management partner to multifamily, we look forward to bringing the industry tools and services that continue to help multifamily property owners increase their Net Operating Income (NOI)! You can read the press release here.

I look forward to keeping you updated over the next three days.  Refresh often!

Tags: Energy cost, Utility expense Management, Energy management, Energy consumption, Conservation, Energy budgeting, Utilities, Cost cutting, Bill Processing, Energy services, Energy Efficiency, Data analysis, Data collection, Business Intelligence, NAA, NAA Education Conference & Exposition, Press releases

Happy Earth Day, World!

Posted by Dimitris Kapsis on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 @ 03:04 PM

Sunday, April 22 marks the 42nd annual celebration of Earth Day. This day, created to increase awareness and appreciation of the earth's natural environment, is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year. The first proclamation of Earth Day was by San Francisco, the City of Saint Francis, who is known as the patron saint of ecology. Today, numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues.

SAVE ENERGY, SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT: Multifamily energy management cuts CO2 admissions

 

 SAVE ENERGY, SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT: Multifamily energy management cuts CO2 admissions

  As an energy management firm, we are constantly thinking about energy efficiency and the economic impact it has for multifamily property owners. But just as important is the powerful environmental impact that these energy efficiency initiatives have. In March 2011, we firmly stated the impact that multifamily energy conservation can have in overall energy efficiency initiatives.


Can one market sector make a difference? How about one person?  The answer is unequivocally YES!

We recently received correspondence from Green Mountain Energy, one of our Energy Procurement Services providers, sharing some great news. Our energy management efforts for Archstone Residential in New York avoided over 7.3 million pounds of CO2 emissions! That’s as much as:

    • 2.5 million houses turning off all their lights for one day
    • Taking over 200,000 cars off the road for one day
    • 400,000 trees would absorb in one year

This is proof that high quality energy management really does make a difference in our environment. Happy Earth Day Everyone!

Tags: Energy management, Energy consumption, Conservation, Energy procurement, Energy services, Energy Efficiency

NRP Group turns to AUM to help manage energy and utilities

Posted by James Kenneally on Thu, Jan 26, 2012 @ 03:18 PM

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The NRP Group is a property manager focused on improving its energy management to lower operating expenses. Use less, pay less, that much sounds simple. Managing thousands of residential units along with common spaces is more complex, and that’s where we come in.

AUM is now working with NRP to provide energy management services to 11,000 affordable housing units in its portfolio.

I’ll let our press release take it from here. Read on for more about our new partnership with NRP.

 

 



NRP Group Selects American Utility Management to Provide Complete Energy and Utility Management Services


Energy management solutions to improve net operating income to 11,000 affordable housing units


 Cleveland, OH and Lombard, IL -- (January 26, 2012) -- The NRP Group LLC (NRP), today announced its selection of American Utility Management, Inc. (AUM) as its partner to provide complete energy and utility management services to its portfolio of over 11,000 apartment units throughout the United States. Under the terms of the partnership, AUM will provide NRP with energy consulting and advisory services through its energy management, invoice processing, and resident services products.

“NRP experienced tremendous growth in 2011,” states N. Dean Allison, NRP Vice President, Property Management. “A key attribute to our continued growth is the understanding of how energy usage and costs affect our properties’ bottom lines. In June, we were recognized by the EPA and its ENERGY Star Program with a Leadership in Housing Award for our energy-efficient construction and environmental protection. In partnering with AUM, we now have the multifamily industry’s foremost energy management experts to look out for our bottom line by providing guidance in further reducing energy costs and usage.”

Utility and energy expenses are the third-largest expenditure for multifamily property owners, and the ability to effectively manage this expense is critical to increase net operating income (NOI), a priority for every property owner. Annually, a 250-unit building can have average gas and electric expenses totaling $200,000.

“Since 1994, AUM’s sole focus has been assisting multifamily property owners manage their energy and utility expenses,” says Michael G. Miller, AUM Chief Executive Officer. “Because of the unique pairing of common areas and residential unit space, the understanding of energy, its usage, and ways to manage it are complex. Our ability to gather the data off of a property’s invoice, review that data, and provide meaningful information to property owners in a timely manner enable our multifamily property owners to take corrective action faster than anyone in the industry. That means real dollars dropping to the bottom line for them every day. We are excited to partner with NRP to be an integral part of their growth objectives.”

About The NRP Group LLC: Developer, Builder and Management Company

The NRP Group is a full-service developer, general contractor, and property manager providing a broad range of services. From start to finish, every project The NRP Group takes on is carefully contemplated and executed to maximize investment return, cost efficiency, productivity and satisfaction. The NRP Group has been recognized as NAHB’s Multifamily Development Firm of the Year.

Since its’ founding in September 1995 by Alan F. Scott, T. Richard Bailey and J. David Heller, the company has experienced continual growth in the fields of single-family, multi-family, senior and student housing. In all, more than 18,057 housing units have been built with another 3,292+ planned in 2012.

In 2003, the owners formed NRP Management, which at year-end 2011 managed 96 properties encompassing 10,164 market rate and tax credit family and senior apartment properties in Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Indiana, New Mexico, Florida, and Arizona.

About American Utility Management


Founded in 1994, American Utility Management (AUM) provides comprehensive energy services to the multifamily industry. The company prides itself on driving bottom line savings for its clients through its energy management, invoice processing, and resident services. AUM uses its proprietary technology and data to create custom energy solutions that allow multifamily management to lower their energy usage and save money. The company distinguishes itself through its knowledgeable and experienced professionals who provide all services in-house without outsourcing to other companies. AUM advises management of over 500,000 multifamily units across the U.S. For more information on AUM, please visit www.aum-inc.com or call 800-418-5393.

Resources:
Read our blog: blog.aum-inc.com
Find us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AUM_Chicago

Contacts

Press Contact:
Gregory FCA
Leigh Sperun
Senior Account Executive
610-228-2108
Leigh@GregoryFCA.com
or
AUM Company Contact:
American Utility Management
Jim Kenneally
Vice President, Marketing and Sales Operations
630-218-1458
JKenneally@AUM-Inc.com
or
The NRP Group LLC Company Contact:
Diane Christy
Main: 216-475-8900
Fax: 216-475-0700
dchristy@NRPGroup.com

Tags: Energy cost, Energy management, Utilities, Cost cutting, Energy services, Press releases, Affordable housing

How to lock in today's low natural gas prices

Posted by Dimitris Kapsis on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 03:19 PM

If you follow the natural gas market, it’s probably not much of a surprise to hear that prices for the commodity are at an all-time low. Now is the time to lock in those prices for your property to ensure bottom-line savings in your energy budget for the year ahead.

A quick glance at natural gas prices over the past few years shows a downward slope starting in mid-2008 and continuing all the way through today. Current pricing for February 2012 is at $0.28 per therm, while the rolling 12-month futures average for February 2012 through January 2013 is at $0.31 per therm.

There are several reasons why natural gas prices are at an all-time low:


    • Mild winter weather is keeping consumption down and production up -- While recent weather patterns have certainly been wild, the past five years haven’t brought many major weather disturbances that directly impacted natural gas production, which has allowed for continued production. In addition, a mild winter has decreased demand as less energy is needed to heat homes and businesses. December 2011 was one of the mildest on record, according to weather.com. Meteorologist Chris Dolce shared the following map which illustrates where temperatures were running well above average in December. Check out the orange, red and brown shades to get a visual of the warming trend.


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However, these trends won’t stay that way forever. Various factors will likely drive up natural gas demand in the years to come. As the economy continues its slow recovery and the EPA calls for businesses to reduce emissions, the country will need to turn to alternative energy resources. And when the demand starts to increase, so will the prices.

Locking in today’s prices can help you maintain affordable energy rates for your properties in the months to come. Here’s what you can do about your commodity contracts now:

    • Lock in lower energy rates for a longer term. Because of the highly depressed market pricing of natural gas, suppliers may not be offering the 24-36 month contracts they have in the past, but you still have the chance to lock in now for at least 12 months.

    • Turn to a qualified energy consultant for advice and guidance on managing your energy contracts and ensuring you lock in the best rates for your properties. Contracts can be complicated. Our energy experts have the practical experience to help you identify savings, negotiate rates, and secure the best agreement for your property’s needs.


Locking in your natural gas prices now will certainly put you a step ahead as the market adjusts upward. If you have questions on any of this, leave a comment below. And if you’re interested in working with one of our energy consultants for guidance, you know where to reach us (or call 800-418-4393).

Tags: Energy cost, Energy management, Energy budgeting, Natural gas, Pricing, Energy rates, Energy services

Shedding light on multifamily energy services

Posted by Michael Miller on Mon, Jan 03, 2011 @ 04:04 PM

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There’s a revolution taking place in the world of multifamily energy management.

It’s led by property owners and managers who are no longer satisfied operating their facilities blind. They’re looking for partners who will open their eyes to the ways they can minimize, and even eliminate, expenses.

And considering that utilities are the third largest operational cost in the multifamily industry, closely following capital and personnel expenses, owners are increasingly looking to their energy management partners for help protecting and growing their bottom line.

That’s American Utility Management’s mission. During my 10 years with the company, I’ve watched multifamily owners hone in on their energy costs, realizing it’s one of their biggest opportunities to save money. But at the same time, I’ve watched as energy services, energy management, and the utility management space evolve into something that’s significantly more complex than it was just years ago.

Today, energy management is about much more than just getting the utility bills paid. When I arrived at AUM in 2000, it was a much simpler time. Submeters in apartment units, a small band of technicians and operations people (actually, there were seven, to be exact), and a small utility billing department that served 30,000 residential customers on behalf of just a handful of properties and clients. But as the needs of our clients evolved and expanded, so did our energy services.

Now, on top of bill payment, energy management providers counsel clients with regard to legal and regulatory issues, sustainability and benchmarking, and resident billing. Working with our large volume of clients on increasingly complex issues related to their utility procurement, billing, and payment processes, we realized something: We could be doing more to help educate the multifamily industry about the ins and out of energy and utility management. And that’s how the AUM blog was born.

Over the coming days, weeks, and months, our team of experts will be providing you with tips, tricks, and expertise to help both the corporate and property level better manage their multifamily energy services using the latest best practices and technologies and to efficiently bill residents and recover vacant unit costs. AUM has some of the industry’s leading experts. People such as Dimitris Kapsis, Dan Roehl, and Bob Malpasuto. Some of the articles they’ve already been working on are:

    • How an expert manages energy procurement in deregulated markets by Dimitris Kapsis, VP of Energy Management Solutions, and the guy who helped AUM expand its offerings so we could save our clients more money.
    • Top ten reasons why property owners should commit to a comprehensive energy management plan by Dan Roehl, who spends a lot of time working with clients who will be affected by NYC’s energy benchmarking regulations.

Why listen to us? Because we feel that by getting to know us and learning from our experience, we might win you as a client. We’ve been around a long time, we’ve learned a lot along the way, and we have a lot to share. Our team of 140 utility experts will testify that they eat, breathe, and sleep multifamily energy services. And we hope that going forward on this blog, some of our clients will share their stories about how our passion has improved the way they do business.

In our effort to be true partners of the multifamily industry, this platform will help serve your need today with proactive solutions, while anticipating tomorrow's concerns. Have a burning question about energy management? Looking for some no-brainer, cost-cutting ideas? We welcome your questions and feedback. And watch the blog for posts that will touch on every detail of the energy management world.

Tags: Energy cost, Energy management, Energy procurement, Multifamily, Utility bills, Cost cutting, Bill Processing, Resident Billing, Energy services, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Utility bill payment, Legal and Regulatory, Submetering, Property owners, Capital expense

A primer on energy management and utility services

Posted by James Kenneally on Mon, Jan 03, 2011 @ 04:04 PM

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For a blog where the focus is utility management for the American multifamily industry, I think an explanation of energy management and the plans that drive it is in order. The following is a primer on a topic that we’ll talk about extensively in the months to come.

An energy management plan is a program of actions aimed at reducing energy bills and the environmental impacts of a business. They focus on two closely related strategies:

    • Conservation: Avoiding wasteful energy use and energy-related services (if you don't need it, turn it off). For multifamily, this might mean checking that all vacant properties are not being heated, cooled, or lit unnecessarily.
    • Efficiency: Reducing consumption of energy for current operations (if you need it, use it more efficiently). The first place many will turn is lighting, where owners can replace old bulbs with more energy efficient technologies.

Why manage energy? Because it makes good economic and organizational sense. A well-maintained and well-operated facility will be energy efficient. And managing energy consumption means the business can provide more cost-effective services and minimize the costs passed on to the community. An energy management plan involves four basic steps:

1. Collect and analyze energy use data. Your utility bills contain a lot of data about cost and usage. The key to understanding this data is to measure the effective utility cost and usage and identify trends and variances that you can act upon.

2. Complete an energy audit to determine where, when, and how efficiently energy is used. This involves reviewing on-site utility equipment, such as central systems and property meters; examining lighting throughout the facility; and completing a thorough building envelope inspection. A complete audit will also analyze historical utility costs and consumption, which makes it possible to identify the potential for energy reduction relative to industry averages and similar facilities. The utility cost analysis should include the following:

    • Historical, 12-month utility consumption, demand peaks, and cost data
    • Alternate utility rate schedules that would reduce cost
    • Historical electrical demand peaks
    • Historical water usage

Energy audits conducted by AUM indicate that about 20 percent of energy consumed can be saved by implementing relatively simple measures, which will pay back the investment in less than three years. Management, operating, and maintenance measures, which require little or no capital investment, can achieve a 10 percent savings in energy usage.

3. Implement energy saving measures. There are multiple opportunities across HVAC, lighting, and water usage that multifamily owners can take advantage of for better management of energy services. These measures might be as simple as preventative maintenance, insulation installation, changes to temperature set points, and equipment upgrades. And a simple conservation measure can mean big savings.

There are endless ways to avoid the common practices that suck energy from your building envelope. For example, if water heaters are set just 10 degrees lower, multifamily owners will see a 3 to 5 percent reduction in gas use and cost. And insulating water pipes and water heaters earn an additional 4 to 9 percent savings on gas.

4. Regular reporting and measurement. The only way to truly measure the effectiveness of an energy management plan is over time. If you have a property in a region that sees drastic seasonal change (hello, Chicago!), it might take 12 months to effectively measure a period against the same period from the previous year.

This explanation is just a bird’s-eye view of an incredibly complex topic. I’ll soon delve into the details of how each of these steps is carried out and the many opportunities and benefits for the multifamily industry. So if you’re drowning in energy expenses and need some cost-cutting solutions, stay tuned!

Tags: Energy management, Conservation, Utility rate schedules, Historical utility costs, Utility bills, Energy services, Water, Energy Efficiency, Energy audit, Data analysis, Data collection, HVAC, Lighting, Historical utility consumption, Demand peaks, Equipment upgrades, Property meters, Temperature set points