How To Make Your First Condo Energy Efficient In Sacramento’s Climate
Sacramento is experiencing a surge in condo development—and it’s exciting to see. Thanks to the radiating tech boom in the Bay Area, the city, much like the entire region, is becoming one of the top areas for condo buildings in the country. Young people, in particular, are flocking to Sacramento with enough income to own, but for whatever reason aren’t quite ready for the house and the yard. This dynamic means it’s an exciting time for the city—and these new buyers.
Unfortunately, that excitement is also coinciding with a drought and a push for energy conservation, on top of the ever-present need to save money. Conservation puts a lot of new responsibility on homeowners, and new home buyers who had previously been renting might not always be sure what their responsibilities are. While it isn’t as easy to make major repairs and upgrades in a condo, there are ways that owners can conserve energy and save water. Remember: it might not be a house, but it is your home—and you are free to make the repairs you need.
Switch to Solar
Solar power in California is getting less expensive every year, especially with programs like HERO that help homeowners save money by paying off the cost of installation as part of their assessment. However, installing solar panels in a condo can be a little tricky—there is currently a legal dispute over whether an owner is allowed to install them on the roof at all. If you live in a condo and want to at least partially use solar, bring it up with the Homeowners Association or condo board. Chances are, you aren’t the only one. It may be possible to install photovoltaic panels for your individual unit, or perhaps have them installed for the whole building. Remember, going green will save money and increase retention for whoever owns the multifamily building, as well, making it a win-win for everyone.
Pay Attention to Your AC Unit
It gets sweltering around here. As I write this, it’s almost 90, and that’s the coolest it’s going to be for at least a week. That’s no fun, but remember, a poorly-functioning air conditioning unit is almost worse than none at all—and it is way more expensive. As summer brings with it some extreme heat, be sure to have your AC unit inspected for efficiency. You’ll want to make sure:
- The thermostat is working properly
- All ducts are clear
- All parts are in tip-top order
Remember that it is up to you to get it repaired. Proper yearly maintenance is the best way to save money here. If your condo doesn’t already have a smart thermostat system, consider having one installed.
Make Plumbing Work For You
One area where plumbing costs money and wastes water is with leaky pipes. This is something that new owners don’t always consider, especially because the condo feels like an apartment. But you own the pipes. Now, your building may have a paid maintenance crew, but they are rarely there for unit-level preventive work. Check to make sure there are no leaks in the hot water pipe leading to your unit (you have a right to know which pipes are yours). If there is a leak, this wastes water, as well as the energy it costs to heat and transport that water. A trained plumbing professional can also inspect your pipes, and can help you install insulation on the first few feet of the connector pipe, to maintain temperature.
One of the simplest things you can do is also one of the most important: installing water-saving plumbing fixtures, like low-flow showerheads and toilets. By law, you will need to have a showerhead at 2 gallons per minute this year, and by 2018 it will be at 1.8 (the national standard is 2.5). So get ahead of these new regulations and install a low-flow head now—while potentially saving yourself a few hundred dollars a year.
You should make sure you fix leaks as well. A shower that drips once per second will cost about $35 in wasted water a year. That might not sound like much, but it is $35 you are paying to waste water—the most precious natural commodity there is. Tightening that up, using better fixtures, as well as energy-saving appliances, helps keep you, and California, in the green.
It’s fun and exciting to have your first condo, especially in a booming city like Sacramento. But don’t forget that you can do a lot of things to save yourself money while conserving energy and water. Most HOAs clearly have a lot of rules and regulations, but there are ways to influence the board, and to work within their guidelines to make your unit a prime example of thrifty and comfortable living. It’s a new adventure, and Bell Brothers is here to help make it a good one. Connect with us today to learn more about our plumbing, HVAC, and window expertise.