Join Club

Rethink Energy: Condominium Values, Dues and the Buffet Effect

AIRE banner

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment. Got a question? Email us at [email protected]!

A treasurer of an Arlington condo asked us what utility actions can be taken in a condo building. Contrary to popular belief, there is zero correlation between the age of a building and its energy performance. What matters most is how the building is managed.

Let’s dig into this a bit.

Condos are some of the most sustainable places to live. These units usually require less energy to heat and cool than single-family homes because they share walls, floors, and ceilings. Multifamily properties also tend to be located on Metro corridors, making it easier for residents to walk and take public transportation. That’s all good news.

The downside of condo living is that most condos charge a flat association fee. This means that there is no incentive to use less water, or energy if also included. This is called the ‘buffet effect.’ That isn’t necessarily great news.

Why should you care how much water or energy your neighbor uses? Higher utility bills mean higher association dues. Condo prices and association fees generally have an inverse relationship, so higher association fees often depress the unit sale price of a condo.

How can you protect your investment and keep costs down? Here are three ways to start:

Track utilities You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Use a free tool like ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio manager. Apartment and condo buildings can now compare their usage to a national database using ENERGY STAR’s 1-100 scale. Utility usage should be a regular item at condo Board meetings.

Offer rebates for residents to retrofit water fixtures — Water bills are often the highest cost utility for condos and represent a huge opportunity. Hyde Park is an example of an Arlington condo that successfully offered rebates to residents to replace toilets with high efficiency models. They ran the program for three years. Other properties have given out or installed water-saving faucet aerators free of charge for residents that voluntarily agreed to install them.

Replace lighting with efficient LED lighting — LED lights use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer. Ballston Park is a good example of an Arlington Condo building that is proactively managing their building to keep costs down. In 2011 they performed a retrofit of 330 common area lights from incandescent to LED bulbs. They reduced the wattage of their bulbs by 85%. Some properties that have one master electric meter for all units have also handed out free LED lights to each unit to raise awareness of this issue. Dominion Power is currently offering lighting rebates to properties to retrofit their common area or garage lighting.

Would you like a member of the Rethink Energy Team to attend you Board Meeting to discuss energy? We would love to support your property to take action and save money. Email us at [email protected].

Recent Stories

In loving memory of Joseph Robert Kapacziewski, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 41.

In loving memory of James Stuart Edmonds, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 84.

A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.

Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 17124 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers – open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.Middle SchoolIn the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.High SchoolThe High School program is organized by school of attendance and teams are classified by gender. New players will learn the basics in a supportive, welcoming environment. Experienced players will continue to develop their skills, and enjoy competition with other high school programs. The season concludes with a state level championship tournament in late May.All players are guided by experienced coaches who emphasize sportsmanship and good spirit. Ultimate is a fun sport with great camaraderie!YULA does not want finances to limit anyone from participating. Our middle school program offers a “Pay What You Can” cost structure and our our high school program is offering a $50 discount to new players.Visit our website to register and learn more. Sign up with a friend, but don’t delay, the season starts in March!http://www.yula-ulti.org

Submit your own Announcement here.

The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.

The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.

Former participants have this to say:

_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Valentine Pop-Up at George Mason University

Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village

Standup Comedy Showcase Starring Matt Ruby (Comedy Central)

Dead Horse Comedy Productions brings together top comedians from the DMV and beyond for a live standup comedy show!

Matt Ruby, Headliner

Matt Ruby is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker from New York City. His comedy has been filmed by

×

Subscribe to our mailing list