The great part about energy conservation is that you will save your HOA money at the same time you’re making your community a cleaner, nicer place to live. The challenge may seem daunting, but if your board breaks down an energy-saving initiative into simple steps, you’ll be on your way to a smaller carbon footprint before you know it! Here, we’ll be going over some step-by-step tips for eliminating energy waste in your community.
Step One: Determine How Much Energy Your HOA is Using
Study your HOA’s electricity and water bills to find out how much money you spend on each throughout the year. Which months peak in electricity use? When do water costs drop? Do the trends vary over the years?
Next, find out what’s causing large amounts of energy use. Do you water community greenery more often during the summer months? Are community streetlights and amenity lighting sapping energy during the longer winter nights? Once you discover where your energy costs are coming from, you can determine whether these costs are essential, nonessential, or if you can make some energy-saving changes.
Step Two: Brainstorm Energy-Conserving Changes
The best way to save money without skimping on HOA appearance and the quality of your amenities is to make clever substitutions, like these:
- Consider looking into more effective irrigation plans and replacing some of your water-hogging plants with hardy regional flora (like aloe vera or decorative cacti).
- Check that all your sprinklers and pipes are in working order—one leaky sprinkler can cause costly bills down the line, not to mention all that wasted water!
- Schedule HOA events and meetings at optimal energy-saving times. For example, you could hold a summer party at dusk to save money on air conditioning. Or, during more temperate months, hold board meetings during the day, so you can open the window blinds to take advantage of natural sunlight.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with more efficient fluorescent lighting.
- Make and enforce community clubhouse rules against opening windows, setting the thermostat too high or too low, and charging electronics in the clubhouse.
- Ask homeowners to unplug clubhouse appliances when they are not in use.
- Replace a cable subscription with Netflix or a stack of DVDs to discourage TV use and lower electricity bills. You can also add a community board game library to encourage conversation and build friendships!
Step Three: Make Energy-Saving Additions
If you really want your association to go green, you can spend some money now to save more over the years to come. These community upgrades can save you trouble and resources:
- If it’s time to replace an appliance, such as the clubhouse fridge or the heating system, go for an energy-saving model. If you need to replace a pool pump, do likewise.
- Install energy-efficient hand dryers in the community bathrooms to stop paper waste, and prevent any chance of running faucets by installing the models that turn off automatically.
- Look into installing solar panels and water reservoirs.
Step Four: Share Tips with Homeowners
To help associations save as much money through energy conservation as the board, see about hosting “Going Green” community events and sharing energy conservation tips with your members. You might consider the following:
- Host sessions on appliance maintenance tips, such as adjusting water heater settings and replacing filters.
- Conduct neighborhood carbon footprint “scavenger hunts,” where families compete to create the most complete breakdown of their home energy use.
- Have “watt meter challenges,” where homeowners compete to correctly guess the amount of energy everyday devices use while left plugged in for one hour; a watt meter will provide the correct answer!
- Give homeowners helpful tidbits of advice in community newsletters or during meetings and events. These tips could include watering at night, lowering the brightness on electronic devices so the battery lasts longer, unplugging devices when charged or not in use, washing clothing on the “tap cold” setting, and running only full loads in the dishwasher.
Conserving energy doesn’t have to be as troublesome as it seems. Using just a few of the tricks listed here won’t just help your HOA’s budget, it will help your community become one that gives back to the environment. So, start brainstorming ways your association can reduce energy waste! And, if the tips given here aren’t enough, try seeking professional advice—an energy audit could help you identify any hidden energy-sappers.
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