Condos and Apartments
Although condos and apartments tend to use less energy than detached
homes, there are lots of opportunities for savings regardless of whether
you rent or own.
As an individual living in a condo or an apartment, there are numerous
simple and low-cost things you can do to reduce water and energy use:
wash clothes in cold water, install low-flow shower heads, turn down the
thermostat, unplug seldom-used appliances, or use a power strip to
reduce phantom load (electricity used by a device that is plugged in but
turned off or in standby mode). Check our lighting and appliances
and heat and hot water
sections for more information.
There are many simple things you can do yourself:
- Changing the filter in the heating and air conditioning system twice a year.
- Weather strip or caulk cracks around windows and doors.
- Use pre-cut foam insulation behind electrical outlets on outside walls.
- Take advantage of the sun's warmth by opening blinds on the
sunny side of your unit in the winter. You may even be able to avoid
turning on lights. Close blinds after dark to lessen heat loss by
conduction. In the summer, close blinds on the sunny sides of you unit.
If you are choosing new window coverings, consider the energy savings objective for each specific window. Check each manufacturer's website for helpful information.
Home offices consume a lot of energy, so keep this in mind when replacing computers, scanners, copiers and other equipment for your home office. Learn helpful tips here
Renovations in a condo can be expensive. Before any major renovation, learn about ways to save by visiting the Quick & Effective Conservation Tips: Home Renovations page. If you plan minor renovations, such as replacing appliances and lighting fixtures, look for Energy Star products. For example, Energy Star qualified dishwashers use 31% less energy and 33% less water than conventional machines while delivering superior cleaning performance.
The Federal Government has many incentives an rebates available for products
and building materials under the Energy Star program. There are also Federal Income Tax Credits for energy efficiency.
Condo owners and renters have little direct control of areas outside their own units, but every complex has a variety of different opportunities for improvement. Owners and renters special challenges include educating and encouraging fellow residents, trustees and building managers to think green. The more energy that is consumed, the higher the cost in dollars and green house gas emission, regardless of who uses it.
Condo and apartment dwellers' actions have an impact beyond themselves. For example, if hot water is included in the rent and the occupants of one unit take long showers and use hot water in washers, all owners pay for it in the long run with higher assessments. If the occupants of ground floor units convince managers to caulk and insulate basement doors and windows; seal cracks and holes around chutes; and insulate hot water heaters and hot water pipes, all owners benefit. So does the environment.
If a flat roof can be coated white to reflect heat, the top floor occupants will be cooler and use less energy. When a roof needs to be re-shingled, suggest using a light color.
Take a look at the outside of your condo or apartment complex. Well planned landscaping can decrease energy usage; control storm water runoff on parking surfaces and sidewalks; cool parking lots; as well as increase property values in condos. See our section on landscaping.
Share these energy conservation tips with your neighbors, managers, trustees to multiply the effect.