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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: 

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 thermostat at 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.

  4. Turn down your water heater’s temperature. Setting your water heater to 120 degrees gives you hot water, saves you money, and saves energy.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 way to maximize the flow of cooling from your system.
     
  10. 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.

 

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