10 EASY STEPS TO MAKE YOUR
CONDO MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT
Written by Ozzie Gonzalez
Energy costs, like everything else, have been rising
dramatically, and there seems to be no end in sight. But there is
good news. There are simply things a home owner can do to upgrade
their home and save a substantial amount of money.
As an owner of several properties which are being used as
investments, I'm always looking for a way to cut cost and to increase
my bottom line. I'm also thinking about what's coming in the
future and simple ways to increase the attractiveness
of my units.
One simple way is to classify your home to prospective renters
and buyers as "energy efficient."
Here are 10 simple ways you could save money on your electric
bill without spending lots of money:
- Replace existing bulbs with compact
fluorescent light bulbs. Just replacing one 100-watt
incandescent bulb, according to www.inhabitat.com, will save
$30 in energy costs, as they last approximately ten times
longer and use less energy. If you purchase your condo early
enough in the construction phase, ask the developer about
adding an Energy Star lighting upgrade, which means that your
light fixtures will be more energy efficient overall.
- Energy Star appliances. Energy Star, as touched on
above, is a governmental program that sets minimum energy
efficiency standards. According to the Energy Star website,
the average home spends approximately $1900 every year on
energy costs due to appliance usage alone. Selecting Energy
Star efficient appliances can save you up to $80 per year. If
you have an appliance allowance from the builder or seller,
research the costs of your Energy Star appliances of choice.
You might wish to use some of your negotiated upgrades to
acquire these types of appliances if possible.
- Get a programmable thermostat. It is
especially helpful if your thermostat is programmable, because
you can set it to be lower than might otherwise be comfortable
while you are at work or on vacation. Setting your house
75 or higher degrees in the summer while you are at home will
reduce the usage of your heater and central air. While the
temperatures may require a bit of acclimation, the payoff can
be seen monthly.
- Turn down your water heater’s temperature. Setting your
water heater to 120 degrees gives you hot water, saves you
money, and saves energy.
- Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans circulate the air,
improving the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
In loft-style condos with big open living spaces, the heat can
rise to the ceiling which causes a noticeable difference in
temperature between upstairs on the loft level and downstairs.
Fans can help equalize this differential without forcing you
to crank up the heat or AC.
- Use LED
lights. If you're decorating your home or condo for the
holidays use LED lights or Light Emitting Diodes. LED's can last up to 100,000
hours and use 99% less energy (see www.ase.org). Turn these
lights off when you are away, just as you would your kitchen
lights, and don’t leave them on all night.
- Conserve water. Simple efforts like brushing your teeth
without the water running, filling up your kitchen sink and
washing your dishes all at once, running full loads of
laundry, and installing water conserving showerheads go a long
way to reducing water usage without noticeably impacting the
quality of your life. You can save five gallons a minute or
more using these strategies, especially if you fix any leaky
or drippy faucets.
- Turn your freezer/refrigerator down a few degrees and vacuum
the refrigerator coils clean (located on the back). Also, move
your refrigerator a few inches away from the wall.
- Change the filter on your air conditioner
regularly. Doing this on a monthly maintenance helps it run more
efficiently and minimizes wear and tear on your unit. Arrange
furniture so it doesn't block air vents is also an important
maximize the flow of cooling from your system.
- Use power strips to avoid “Phantom Load.”
A phantom load is the energy sapped by appliances when they
are plugged in but not turned on – in the average home this
accounts for 40% of the energy bill! Plug your appliances into
power strips to turn off your TV, DVD, stereo, and cell phone
charger in one fell swoop. If 10,000 people plug their cable
boxes into power strips that are turned off when not watching
TV, we’ll save about $300,000 per year.
Another one is making sure your home is properly insulated in order to keep the
conditioned ac/heat within the home for a longer period of time.
Weatherize your home. You can save 30% off heating costs by simply
caulking, sealing and weather-stripping around all windows,
outside doors or where plumbing, duct work and electrical wiring
penetrate exterior walls, floors or ceilings.