Everyone loves the turning of the seasons, what with leaves changing, snow falling, pools opening, and the like. But Mother Nature has little concern for the comfort of humans, so fluctuating temperatures bring the need for residential heating and cooling.
In condominiums, cooperatives, and homeowners’ associations, residential heating and cooling (HVAC for short) can be major, both in terms of financial cost and energy expenditure. To keep those under control, it would behoove any association board to stay on top of the latest trends and innovations in HVAC, and make sure their own equipment and systems are up-to-date and well-maintained.
All the Small Things
Starting at a micro level, there are things that every unit owner or shareholder can do within their individual domiciles in order to conserve energy and help cut costs, both for themselves, and community-wide.
“People will ask about installing solar panels or wind towers and all of that fancy stuff, but the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidelines recommend that one not touch any renewable energy source until they fix simple things within their buildings via an energy audit,” says Brendan Yadav, principal at Yadav Solutions, Inc., in New York City, adding that if an association doesn’t take care of local, more minor inefficiencies before attempting an HVAC overhaul, they won’t get the full benefits of that upgrade.
For example, in units with radiators, Yadav recommends reflective jackets that help contain heat that may get lost between the radiator and a window. “And speaking of windows, make sure that those are caulked and sealed nicely, and that the operable parts are operable, while the inoperable parts are inoperable,” Yadav says. “Just make sure that they’re adequately maintained.” He also recommends holding a lighter to the base of a closed window to ensure that no excess air is getting in. If the flame wavers, chances are you’ve got a draft – and in addition to being chilly, you’re also paying for wasted heat.