Window A/C added Electric Cost

8 Replies

I just purchased my first 4 unit apartment complex in Central NY and with summer approaching I have tenants starting to ask about being able to use window A/C units.  My lease states no window A/C units without written consent from the landlord. My concern is not with allowing the window units but merely the added cost of using a window A/C unit.  Any thoughts on the added cost; should I change a monthly fee (e.g. +$10 per unit), or not bother with it as it may not impact the utility cost that much... thoughts/ideas? Thanks 

Are all your units on a single meter or are they metered separately? Having them metered separately gives you the ability to have the tenants pay the utilities and then use of a window unit AC is solved. They can use it, but they pay the associated utilities. In my opinion, window units are an eyesore, but that might be ok in your neighborhood. Presumably the tenants knew when they signed their leases that the units didn't come with any kind of AC so they can't expect after the fact that the amenity would be available without an increase in their lease. Perhaps you re-negotiate the lease for units that have a window unit AC to ensure your utility bill is covered. However, you'll probably still find if they don't pay the bill themselves they will run the unit while simultaneously leaving other windows wide open. I suppose another option would be to buy the window units yourself (pick a relatively efficient model) and then allow them to "rent" them from you monthly for $X/mo which should cover the cost of the unit as well as your anticipated increased electric charge. I'm just using hypothetical numbers here, but let's say a window unit cost you $300. You assume a unit will last you two years max because tenants are hard on things (again, hypothetical). They're only going to want to rent them from you for 3 months out of each year. So take that $300/6 (3 months this year, 3 months next year). That's $50/mo per unit to rent then tack on another $50 for increased electric usage. If they want to spend $100/mo they can rent their AC unit from you. For some, it may be worth it. These numbers could be totally off, but it's a way to think about how to provide the amenity when it's needed but also to cover yourself.

Thanks Bonnie - Unfortunately the units are on a single meter. I'm still laughing about your open window comment as I did have a couple tenants running their heat with there windows open this season, crazy!  I like the idea of purchasing the unit and renting it and the usage to them, this way I can make sure they are using an appropriate sized and energy efficient unit.

A window A/C unit will increase utility use. If utilities are included, tenants will abuse the electric and run the A/C constantly, even when they're not home or with the front door wide open.

Even if one unit is only $1 a day, two window units in four apartments will cost you $8 a day or $240 a month. Then you have the added cost of purchasing the units, which will probably be abused by the renters.

Make the tenants buy their own. Talk to the utility company to see what an estimated increase may be with one unit. Charge them that additional amount for every unit they add.

@Tim Jett  First things first. Are they good paying tenants who otherwise give you no problems? If they aren't I wouldn't even consider doing an upgrade like this.

Make them sweat so you can save a few dollars. I am sure that will help your tenant retention greatly. 

@Tim Jett , based on your second response, I think you may be thinking too hard about this.  If you buy them, then you're dealing with probably helping putting them in, having more paperwork, and dealing with maintenance and replacement.  If you want to dictate the size, just put that in the landlord acceptance.  I would make the tenants be responsible for them.  I used to think at one point that I should provide A/C's to tenants, but before I even got around to it, they were already buying them - because I did have in my lease the unit is As-Is and the unit didn't have them.  I realized that the tenant will make do - as most of us do if we want something.

In regards to the electrical, get the units onto a RUBS system ASAP.  Get the tenants paying for their services and utilities.  The utilities could be possibly broken out per unit with an electrician, and that would add value to the property, but RUBS is an effective way to send out a bill each month to the tenants to pay for utilities.  I usually will do it based on the size of the unit.  The more units you have, the more likely you'll just want to equally break it out all and just add it as a monthly expense to the lease (still could do on 4 units) - but to keep it so that you don't actually pay anything and they are watching what they use, then you can split it and send a bill.

Originally posted by @Tim Jett :

I just purchased my first 4 unit apartment complex in Central NY and with summer approaching I have tenants starting to ask about being able to use window A/C units.  My lease states no window A/C units without written consent from the landlord. My concern is not with allowing the window units but merely the added cost of using a window A/C unit.  Any thoughts on the added cost; should I change a monthly fee (e.g. +$10 per unit), or not bother with it as it may not impact the utility cost that much... thoughts/ideas? Thanks 

Hi Tim,

Have you thought about using sleeves vs. just setting them in the windows.

Also watch the Amp draw on the units plugs. Some A/C's need a lot of Amps and may trip the breakers.

Meaning you may need to run another electrical circuit for the A/C if you need bigger A/C units.

Good Luck!