Energy upgrades bring historic building back to life

A 1950s boiler serviced the structure and heating costs were upwards of $1,000 a month.”Being able to get in and adjust water temperatures as we incorporate more renters into the structure is excellent. Since the building was totally vacant when we began, we understood that we needed to change things based on usage.

When Mike Sattem got the Slater Building in March 2020, one of the five buildings in La Grande on the National Historic Register, energy-efficient enhancements were at the top of his order of business. The mixed-use structure houses 10 apartment or condos in addition to retail area, so Sattem desired to focus on tenant comfort and complete satisfaction in the 130-year-old building.
Sattem participated in a Union County renovation fair where he visited with an Energy Trust representative. “I was so excited to see what programs were out there to assist improve my home and it was remarkable to read more about Energy Trusts services, particularly throughout Covid,” said Sattem. He chose to have Energy Trust conduct an energy evaluation at his home to discover chances for energy enhancements.
After the totally free assessment, Energy Trust and Sattem identified water heating as the most pressing upgrade to deal with. A 1950s boiler serviced the building and heating expenses were upwards of $1,000 a month. Sattem was pleased to find out that Energy Trust offers cash incentives for tankless hot water heating units and that his regional electrical co-op, Oregon Trail Electric, had the ability to help decommission the boiler and supply incentives for area heating.
Tankless water heaters are more costly than standard water heating units, the long-term benefits and ease of usage were the selling points for Sattem. Advantages include offsetting the task cost due to lower utility costs and the simplicity of setting or adjusting the hot water temperature thanks to easy-to-read LCD display screens.
“Being able to get in and adjust water temperatures as we incorporate more tenants into the building is great. Due to the fact that the building was completely uninhabited when we started, we realized that we needed to adjust things based on usage. We can increase temperature on the fly which made troubleshooting a lot easier,” he said.
Instead of calling a plumbing professional to adjust the temperature level, Sattem can change the temperature level himself and rapidly adapt to renter requests and occupancy. Most significantly, the tankless warm water heaters are efficient and provide renters with consistent warm water as needed. “Ive had zero problems with the tankless systems” said Sattem.
To find out more on multifamily home upgrades, call 1.877.510.2130, email or check out