Summer’s longer days mean more time to spend outside enjoying warm weather and sunshine. The Ontario summer is also the time when your building is working hard to keep you comfortable, which often leads to higher electricity costs. This makes summer an excellent time to consider energy management to help control these costs.
A full energy management program should include building equipment retrofits, HVAC operational improvements, and resident-engagement programs. The timing could not be better to review the steps that your condominium management company is taking to ensure that your building’s energy and sustainability impacts are being well managed.
Ontario has introduced a few initiatives to encourage good energy management practices:
- The Conservation First Framework (2015-2020) is the extension of the saveONenergy program (2011-2015) and sets aside even more incentive money for equipment retrofit.
- Bill 135 makes it mandatory that buildings over 50,000 square feet report their annual energy and water use performance data. The intent is to help building owners make good money-saving choices through better energy management while allowing prospective buyers to be better informed about the energy efficiency of a building before purchasing it.
- The Ontario Climate Change Action Plan lays out a framework to ensure that the province works towards tackling climate change. While details are still evolving, the plan will likely encourage condominium owners to follow good energy management practices.
Your property management company should be well educated on these initiatives and work with you to ensure that your condominium corporation is taking full advantage of cost-saving opportunities. At FirstService Residential, we are working with all our boards of directors to develop energy management strategies. We believe that when energy management is executed correctly, it is the best investment your building can make. Our approach is a unified, systematic, and accountable process to manage and control energy costs that impact your building’s maintenance costs while preserving or improving resident comfort.
Although this initiative is an ongoing process, there are immediate suggestions that your condo corporation can communicate to residents to help them better manage their energy costs and contribute to the broader energy management plan within the community. The good news is that many of these are low- or no-cost solutions that will not impact your residents’ comfort.
The following are some tips to save on summer energy that your condominium community can implement immediately:
1. Master the thermostat.
Many thermostats can be programmed to set different temperatures at night or during unoccupied periods. Setting the thermostat to a higher temperature can bring significant savings: For every one degree Centigrade that you increase the temperature setting, you could save two to five percent on your electricity bill. Closing the blinds during peak or unoccupied periods brings even greater savings, as does opening the window and turning off the air conditioner when possible.
2. Go LED.
LED lighting is an improvement over most compact fluorescents and pot-light bulbs. The longer bulb life (greater than 60000 hours), lack of mercury, and ability to withstand frequent switching make them a superior lighting source.
3. Keep it clean.
Changing A/C filters on a regular basis will reduce energy use from anywhere between 5 and 15 percent. This will also keep the air cleaner and help to minimize repairs.
4. Consider everything but the kitchen sink.
- Running kitchen appliances and cooking can represent up to 20 percent of electricity costs, and a number of simple measures can help to lessen this expense:
- Keep your refrigerator temperature at two to three degrees Centigrade and the freezer at -18 degrees Centigrade.
- Use the toaster oven or microwave over the large oven.
- Run the dishwasher only when it is full.
- Purchase appliances with the Energy Star label, and compare the EnergyGuide ratings.
5. Go off peak.
There is typically a large difference between on-peak and off-peak rates—as much as 10 cents per kilowatt hour. Consult your municipal energy provider to find out actual rates.
Turning off lights and reducing plug loads when you are at work or shifting laundry and dishwashing times can also save electricity.
6. Be organized.
Utility costs are going up faster than inflation. Ontario’s plans are intended to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. Being part of a larger condominium community allows you to influence neighbours, create “green teams,” and advocate for prioritizing energy management and utility costs with your condo corporation. Discuss energy management opportunities with your neighbours and the condominium board. Being vocal and involved helps keep energy management a high priority.
You don’t have to sweat big energy bills this summer. Start educating your condominium board and community on the benefits (and feasibility) of conserving energy now, and you’ll be cooling down those costs before you know it.
For more information on energy management programs in Ontario, contact FirstService Residential, Ontario’s leading condominium management company.