When your residents are desperate to beat the Texas heat, stepping into their air conditioned homes or into the community clubhouse can be a welcomed relief. However, chances are that neither your residents nor your HOA welcome the consequent electric bill.
According to the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO), Texan’s pay, on average, 56% more for electricity each year than other residents across the country. What’s more, even though Texas produces the most energy, Texans consume the most, too.
Sobering facts, for sure. But don’t sweat it! By taking a few simple steps, you can help your HOA and your residents reduce energy consumption. Your association management company can also assist you find ways to save energy. For starters, follow these simple guidelines.

1. Teach your residents how to save energy at home.

It pays to educate your residents on energy conservation. If your community circulates a newsletter, consider including an article offering some suggestions. Here are a few from FirstService Residential, as well as from the Public Utility Commission of Texas


  • Set your thermostat one to two degrees warmer than you normally do. You could save as much as 16% on your electric bill. Want to save even more? Invest in a programmable thermostat.


  • Use ceiling or portable fans to make the room feel cooler. They use a lot less energy than air conditioners and they help circulate that cool air.


  • Keep the sun and heat out. Check that your windows are all closed, and draw your shades on windows that get direct sunlight. Don’t forget to provide shade for any outdoor air conditioners or condensers.


  • Minimize the amount that you use vent fans above your stove or in bathrooms. These draw in hot air from outside.


  • Change your air conditioning filters regularly. Clean filters allow your A/C to run more efficiently and can reduce energy use up to 15%. They also improve your air quality and help reduce the frequency of repairs.


  • For even bigger savings in the long run, consider replacing old A/C units with more energy-efficient units. You could save from 20% to 50% in energy. Having the A/C coils professionally cleaned can also increase efficiency.

2. Audit your energy usage.

By conducting an energy audit, you’ll see how your community is using energy and where you could potentially use less. An outside contractor can perform the audit. Also check with your utility company. Even if you have to pay for the audit, the money it can save your community to implement the recommendations will more than offset the cost. If your community doesn’t want to pay for an audit, one alternative is to track your community’s energy use yourself with the tools available online at Smart Meter TexasTM.

3. Find out how communities like yours have reduced their energy consumption.

Houston is among a handful of cities across the United States that have instituted energy usage benchmarking ordinances. These ordinances require buildings and other communities to track and report spending on electricity, gas, and water. Data is collected before and after efficiency actions are put in place to measure their effectiveness.
You can encourage your HOA to benchmark community-wide energy efficiency by finding a community similar to yours in Houston or elsewhere. A good association management company can help you locate and contact one of these communities.

4. Develop your plan for reducing energy consumption.

Once your board has embraced the idea of implementing an energy reduction plan, begin mapping out a plan based on your audit. Your association management company should be able to help you devise an energy plan tailored to your community’s needs.

5.Remind reluctant board members of the benefits.

If initial cost has some board members worrying, first look at the bright side: Taking their fiduciary duties seriously is the sign of a responsible board member. Remind these members of the long-term savings and how that money could be better spent elsewhere. The money your HOA saves in energy costs could even go into your reserve fund. Or perhaps it could fund other projects that have been on the back burner for a while.

The sooner you start spreading the word on reducing energy consumption throughout your community, the sooner everyone will reap the financial benefits.

Learn more about our hot summer topics by reading Guidelines for Managing You Association Community Pool.

Thursday August 04, 2016