The City of Columbia has added a new resource to its website to help renters make an informed decision on where to live and to increase energy efficiency. The site now allows users to search past electric and water usage and rates for Columbia rental units.
The new online resource allows users to either search rental units by address or click on points on a map to view a unit's utility history. After choosing a rental unit, the user is then given a detailed summary of past utility usage, including a monthly overall utility bill amount and total electrical usage per month. The site also includes a graph showing seasonal utility usage for each individual unit.
Barbara Buffaloe is with the city's Office of Sustainabilityl She says the city hopes that having this data available online to users twenty-four seven will help make it easier for renters to make an informed decision.
"If you're deciding on where you're going to live and you're a student and you've got an 8-5 job you can do the searching after hours and find the most energy efficient apartment for your needs," Buffaloe said.
She said another big reason the city decided to put utility history online is to encourage rental energy efficiency.
"So complexes and landlords are incentivized to have more efficient housing units for people to rent because now that information is out there," she said.
Buffaloe says the goal of this project is to not only encourage landlords to increase energy efficiency, but also to help educate renters on what exactly it means to be an energy-efficient rental unit.
She says the city hopes to start working with individual landlords to help improve and market their apartments as energy efficient.
The data can be viewed online at: http://gocolumbiamo.com/Finance/Utilities/rental-costs.php.