Energy costs are significant contributors to the operating expenses of condominiums. The actual costs for an individual building can vary enormously, and while there are many factors that have an influence on this, some of the main ones are:
- Age of building
- Construction type
- Number and location of windows
- Heating and ventilation system
- Automation of heating and ventilation controls
- Habits of occupants
- Preventative maintenance program in place or not
- Lighting choice
As a result of these factors, power and natural gas usage can vary significantly from one condo unit to the next. On top of this there are commercial factors, such as choice of electricity and gas rate plan.
An energy audit is a simple way for condo owners and boards to understand your starting point; your baseline usage, and can help answer the following questions:
- How much power and gas do you consume on a monthly and annual basis?
- Are you using more or less than last year?
- What are the major consumers of power and gas in your building? (We call this a load inventory)
- How are you purchasing power and gas and what are the options available?
- How can you reduce energy usage and thus save money?
- What things can you do, with little or no investment, to save?
- When you have capital to invest, what items will give the best return on investment?
Natural Resources Canada has a handy tool available to help in the analysis of energy efficiency retrofits. RETScreen is a free tool, which can be downloaded and used to evaluate the payback period for various upgrades. It can also be used to reassess the economics as they change over time.
What’s involved in an energy audit? There are 3 stages to the process:
- Data collection – Review of your building’s historical energy usage.
- Load Inventory – This is coupled with a site visit along with your maintenance coordinator.
- Summary report with recommendations.
There is an increasing focus on climate change and energy efficiency in Alberta and throughout Canada. It is highly likely that there will be new grant programs available to assist building owners with energy efficiency upgrades. An energy audit is the first step in knowing your baseline, so that if, and when, such programs are available you know what you should apply for. In addition, the audit and resulting report can form part of your annual budget and planning process for the condo board and association.
Karen King & Associates Inc. works together with De Paoli & Associates to provide energy audits for our condominium units under management. We have seen examples of savings from LED lighting but this is just the start of the possibilities.
The energy audit is a great first step in assessing future investment projects. As each condo unit is different there is no “one fits all” strategy, LEDs have been a worthwhile investment in some cases but new insulation or building automation may be a faster payback for your particular condo.
Please contact Karen King and Associates Inc. to learn more about arranging an energy audit for your condo building.
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