Have you been looking at your budget and wondering if the pinch from rising energy costs will subside soon? Unfortunately, experts are predicting a rise in costs next year, so now is a good time to start making plans to alleviate that extra budgetary burden.

Heating today represents about 30% of energy costs for a building, according to IEA, and the total operating expenses for multifamily properties increased by 13% in just two years between 2020 and 2022. For the 17% of U.S. households living in multifamily, $21 billion is spent on energy annually.

And energy use isn’t expected to decrease, especially as Americans are spending more time at home teleworking. About 40% of Americans work from home a portion of the week, and nearly 64% of renters say they expect to continue teleworking the same amount over the next year.

While the burden to retrofit a building with energy-efficient upgrades can seem complicated and expensive, experts predict the cost of upgrading will only grow exponentially. In order to avoid even larger expenses later, now is the best the time to start creating a plan.

What’s an easy way to assess a property for energy-efficient upgrades?

Tools, experts, and resources are available to help assess a building’s energy consumption, costs, potential for improvements, and the effectiveness of investments made to improve performance. Called utility benchmarking, there’s a free online program that property managers and owners can use called Energy Star Portfolio Manager from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Property owners who integrate utility benchmarking into their asset management approach often see significant improvements in property performance,” according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD “strongly encourages all housing providers to practice utility benchmarking as part of their basic asset management activities.”

For now, HUD only “encourages” benchmarking, but the government might do more than ask in the future. Not every property owner has the budget to hire a consultant to identify and recommend building upgrades. So while that may sound like the easiest and smartest method, there are other ways that can make upgrading even easier. Local utility partners, such as National Grid, offer clients on-site assessments, helpful programs, rebates, and energy assessments for both short-term and long-term energy-efficient upgrades.

How do energy-efficient upgrades actually impact the bottom line?

There are some short-term upgrades that are fairly easy and less invasive to implement like swapping in LED lightbulbs, low-flow showerheads and aerators, and Wi-Fi thermostats. And there are others that require more planning like air-sealing the building envelope and HVAC systems.

What are some real-world examples of energy savings?

With the help of National Grid, the 568,000-square-foot Castle Square Apartments in Boston benefited from annual energy savings of 36% after an energy retrofit that included a new insulated shell around the concrete building, an insulated reflective roof, high-efficiency windows, and air-sealing.

The 12,400-square-foot Hazel Plaza in Seattle has benefited from 25.5% annual energy savings after working with National Grid to install a new fiber cement rain screen, upgrade fenestration, add heat pumps to living rooms, swap in Energy Star-rated hot water heaters and lighting, and install low-flow plumbing fixtures.

While both short-term and long-term upgrades can have a major impact in energy use and overall cost, any improvement made today can start moving the needle toward the goal of lowered energy use and increased energy efficiency.

Learn more about long-term and short-term energy-efficient upgrades at NationalGrid.com.