Monday, October 27, 2014

Update your windows, save energy, make your home more comfortable, save money and reduce carbon emissions


In my travels around town, I get to see how buildings are run (or not run).  I am also the Board President of my Condominium Association in addition to real estate sales.  The largest line item in our budget is, generally, heat.  Here is an example of how my Association reduced our energy costs through proper building management.
 
Per our Public Offering Statement or POS, the windows in our building are not common area but part of each unit.  Therefore, the unit owner is responsible for maintenance.  How is your condo set up?  Are you responsible for your windows?  Or is the Association responsible?

We had some unit owners who replaced their windows recently with energy efficient windows that met the 2010 Energy Rebate Standard - a U factor less than .3 and SHGC factor less than .3.  Some others had replaced their windows with really cheap windows and most had not replaced their windows in 20 years.  

We also have a centralized heating system which has it's advantages and disadvantages.  On the one hand we can buy a fuel contract from a commodities trader at wholesale.  On the downside, a unit cannot control its own heat. 

This created a conflict.  In order to accommodate those with really poor windows, we had to crank the heat up in the Winter months while those with really good windows had to open their windows in the dead of winter just to make their apartments livable.  What a waste!  What could we do to get unit owners to update their windows?

We put in place a number of easily executable measures such as updating our thermostats, putting in blow-in insulation in the attics and putting in an air conditioner policy.  Despite what might be obvious to some, many residents were leaving their air conditioners in during the winter months.  An air conditioner has open panels on each side.  Basically, leaving it in during the winter months is the same as leaving your window wide open.  We put in a $150/month penalty for any unit that left their air conditioner in between October and March.   The air conditioners came out in time for Winter!

We then had an engineer look at the windows of each unit measuring heat loss using a smoke pen. 
He rated each window, no draft, moderate and severe.  He also recorded the age and material of each window.  Windows built before a certain year, pre-date the technology to meet the 2010 Energy Tax Rebate Standard.

We then went back and looked at our Therm usage over time as we put in these policies so that we could measure the impact.  We normalized the usage by looking at something called a Degree Day.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA - the government's weather people) track something called a degree day.  When the average temperature during the day is 65 degrees that's considered neutral - no heating or cooling is needed.  For every degree above 65, that's a cooling degree day for that given day.  And for every degree below 65 on a given day, that's a heating degree day.  For example, in a week, if the average temperature was:  65, 67, 50, 55, 60, 58, 65.  The heating days would be:  0, -2, 15, 10, 5, 7 and 0 for a total of 35.  So, you can figure out how many heating degree days they are in a given winter month and use this number as an index to normalize your usage given how cold the winter is.  I thought that was a pretty neat concept.

See the full analysis below.  It basically allowed us to quantify just how much poor windows were costing us.  This was important to show that a private element could negatively impact the Association.  This due diligence gave us the means to put in a resolution that required all unit owners to meet a specific standard within a given period.  We chose the 2010 Energy Tax Rebate Standard of a U factor of the window of .3 or less and an SHGC factor of .3 or less. 

We properly noticed the meeting under the Sunshine Laws, assembled a quorum, employed a lawyer to help us write a resolution that left no out.  The resolution passed unanimously. 

The majority of the unit owners have already replaced their windows.  We have a couple of landlords in the building who are subject to rent control.  Some of these tenants are paying less than the monthly taxes.  It's unfortunate but we had to put through a very formal, properly executed resolution so that we could enforce it for the sake of the Association as a whole.  Does your board and property manager know how to do this?  Most don't.

Is your Association run well?  Do you have regular meetings?  Is your building making capital improvements every year?  Do you have a solid reserve account?  If you have any questions about how a Board is suppose to run or if you are unsatisfied with your property manager, call me - 201-240-6832.  I would be happy to help.
  Window Resolution f                                                            


Provided by Donna Antonucci
Weichert Realtors
201-240-6832

donnaantonucci@gmail.com

www.hudsonrealestatemonitor.com
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Donna Antonucci Hoboken real estate monitor


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