Four Ways to Increase Value by Decreasing Energy UseOf all the expenses you encounter as a homeowner, community or condo association, energy ranks toward the top of the list.

Many of us see this as a given. We need lights. We need heating and cooling. We need to warm our water and prepare our food. And while the necessity of energy use will never change, how much we pay for it, and how much we need, can.

The best community association management company can help you reduce costs that you thought would never go down. Here are four ways to do it:
  1. Procurement. Did you know you can negotiate how much you pay for energy? You can – if you have buying power. Some community association management companies have the clout to reduce the rates your association pays for essentials like electricity and natural gas. Through its energy division, FS Energy, FirstService Residential – North America’s leading community association management company – has renegotiated rates resulting in $12.7 million in savings for its clients in New York.
  2. Demand management. The electricity bill for most associations is primarily broken into two categories: ‘Usage’ and ‘Demand’ charges. Demand can account for up to 40% of your common area’s electricity costs. Reducing the peak electrical demand your association experiences in a month will lower your bill.  There are quite a few options you can pursue to accomplish this, including the installation of control systems to limit the demand, or even shifting major loads to non-peak hours when electricity is cheaper.

    Also, many utilities have a ‘Load Shedding’ incentive for large customers. Just remember, programs like this can be very complex...they can make money for an association, or they can make an association vulnerable to fines if the program rules aren’t followed to the letter. A great community association management company can walk you through the ins and outs of all these strategies.
  3. Bill audits. Never take your association’s energy bill for granted. Metering problems, calculation errors, inappropriate fees, and sloppy implementation of contract prices can cost you and your association real money. Analyzing every bill statement for your community to ensure it conforms to existing rates, reflects the promised pricing and corresponds to actual energy usage will help you avoid paying more than your fair share. Ongoing audits will also help ensure that your association is getting the lowest possible rates, month after month.
  4. Tech and training. Investing in technologies can pay dividends in terms of energy savings. Make a thorough assessment of lighting, HVAC and boiler systems and, if it makes sense after your financial analysis, replace or retrofit them with more energy-efficient systems. Oftentimes, controlling these systems effectively is cheaper than replacing them completely, but even if sophisticated control systems are in place they may not be working at maximum efficiency.

    Make the most of your systems by adjusting them to control your building at optimal savings (without sacrificing comfort). Install motion sensors in rooms that are rarely used so you’re not burning electricity in an empty space (just be sure to install the right ones so you don’t have to wave your arms to keep the lights on). Train your maintenance staff to keep equipment operating at its peak. And educate your building staff on energy conservation best practices so everyone in your organization is working toward a common goal. You may even want to set an energy savings objective, then reward your staff if that objective is met within a predetermined time frame.  
In short, putting more energy into your energy savings can significantly enhance your property’s value. While some of these strategies are common-sense solutions, your biggest savings will come from leveraging the expertise of an experienced community association management company that is knowledgeable in the area. To find out more about energy saving strategies, contact FirstService Residential.
Tuesday July 29, 2014