types of heating for apartments

Whats the best (cheapest) way to heat an apartment building ? or what other things help keep that heat in ? windows, insulation, building exterior etc…

also for you that already own multi unit apartment buildings them how much does it cost you. i live in michigan so any northerners with info would help.

I’m looking at a few apartment buildings and want to know what to look for and what to look to upgrade.

Thanks in advance

The cheapest way to heat an apartment building is to have the tenants pay their own heat. Then, it doesn’t cost the landlord even a penny! This is the ONLY way that I buy apartment buildings - individually metered for gas and electric.

What kinds of things keep the heat in? Windows - yes, if the tenants keep them shut. Doors, yes, if the tenants keep them shut. Outside of that, I don’t care because I don’t pay the heat!!!

Upgrades? Seperating the utilities so that the tenants pay them would be number 1 in my book!

Good Luck,


propertymanager couldn’t be more right. I flat out will not pay any utilities in any building of mine. If you’re looking at something and they’re master metered make a better deal so that you can add that money to the purchase price then have them credit it back to you at closing and use that money to individually meter the property. Good luck.

My building (in IL) has separate electric meters, but the water is all together. All the units have electric baseboard heating units. The baseboard units are cheap to replace. You can get an 8’ long unit for about $60 or so. So if one of those goes out, it’s a lot less painful than a big central unit.
Extra insulation in the attic makes a big difference for both heating and cooling. Of course you need good insulation on the exterior walls as well. I used to work construction for a couple years during college. The houses we built wouldn’t cool down with the A/C until the insulation was in the attic.
Like others have said, I wouldn’t buy a building with electric all together (or at least give yourself enough room on the deal to pay for separate metering). There are too many horror stories on here of tenants wasting the utilities they don’t pay for.

how much does it cost to have a unit seperate metered ?

I was going to ask that too! Although it may be tough to answer because it depends on the the # of units, size of property etc… and local prices.

First I am not a apartment owner or have tenants of any kind. But I work with a guy that is a tenant in an apartment complex. He pays for gas for the heat but the landlord pays for electric. So what does he do runs the oven and keeps the door open also went out and bought some electric heaters.
Moral of the story do what MIKE says!


Yes, tenants are crafty, especially the ones that don’t work and receive government checks. They’re kind of like prisoners that have all day to plan their escape, except they spend all day trying to beat the system (including the landlord). I’ve seen landlords who pay the heat try to save money by enclosing the thermostat in a lockable plastic enclosure. So, what do the tenants do? Put ice packs on the box!

What does a tenant do when they’re mad at the landlord for not allowing them to have a pitbull? Set the heat on 90 and open all the windows! How much do you think they can run that heating bill to before you evict them, IF YOU CAN EVICT THEM?

Good Luck (and just say no to paying the heat),


well if you have a 4 or 8 unit building how would make them pay if it isnt seperate metered ? My question is does anyone know how much it costs to have each unit seperated so they could pay their own heat.

I would love to know some costs involved in metering gas. I mean, on a building that is 30 years old or more, I would think a gut is in store.

How much does it cost to buy a used car?

That’s the same question you guys are asking about the metering. Are we talking about a 1989 Yugo or a 2007 Bentley. Not quite the same.

The metering question is the same. It depends. It depends on how many units we’re talking about. Are we talking about a property that is covered by the residential or commercial building code? In Ohio, 4 units or more is commercial for the purpose of the building code. That means having expensive plans drawn up and using commercially licensed contractors (electrical). Are you converting to separately metered gas or switching to electric? Will you need to gut the place to do the change, which means the building must be empty or can you do the change with tenants in place? I could go on and on, but the answer is somewhere between $2,000 and $200,000 - MAYBE!

Good Luck,


Dang! You guys really have a time of it with people ripping you off!

I’m glad to be renting to the middle class instead. We pay ALL the utilities including high-speed internet.

We only had a major problem once, when a young couple continued to run the AC with all doors and windows open. That 's when we changed the rental contracts and put a ceiling utility price in.

I too bought buildings metered together where dopers & unemployed were ripping off the landlord. (That’s how I got the building so cheap). But after I got rid of the bad tenants I fixed the units up and furnished them to attract nice working guys. Then I didn’t mind paying utilities., higher rents.

It’s really all about the local economy where you are operating, isn’t it?

This is almost exactly what happened to me in college (I was a tenant). The landlord put a little govenor of some sort on the (one) thermostat in a split level house to keep the heat down to 64 degrees maximum (in Wisconsin). So my rommies put a damp cloth on the device and then it was 80 degrees inside and 0 degrees outside.

Another changed all the bulbs to 40 watts which presented a safety hazard in the stairs. So the tenants just changed them all to 100 watts.

Long story short: I think PropertyManager has it exactly right. :biggrin

The most common type of heating appliance is a furnace, usually fueled by natural gas, oil or another combustible fuel.

Seriously? Gee thanks Mr. Wizard! :shocked

I had a friend who has floor heating and it’s wonderful but it’s rare in Shanghai. If I ever buy a place here I will get floor heating installed but I think you have to do it while you are doing the renovations you can’t easily retro fit it.

When looking at apartment buildings as an investment it is important to understand how the expenses will be shared. Some apartment buildings require that the tenants pay for their own heat where as others include the heat in the cost of rent or split the total cost of heating by the number of tenants in the building. If you are responsible for heating the common areas you must determine the best way to accomplish this while keeping your expenses under control. The best way to control heating costs is to somehow share the heating expenses with the tenants.

Well I do this too. At least the landlord does have to bother taking a penny for the heating on the apartments. I usually get my own heating needs then.

where at?
is this the homedepot space heaters?

Here’s a link for a six footer at Lowes for under $60.

The eight footer was $81.94.