Saving Electricity for You and Your Neighbors The Benefits of Submetering Your Co-op or Condo

New Yorkers certainly wouldn't want to spend their summer being stuck in a crowded elevator or a hot, steamy subway car with no lights or air conditioning, especially when the temperature climbs to around 100 degrees. That is not a pleasant situation to say the least. However, some experts are predicting that New York City may face those dire consequences this summer as California did in 2000 when power supply problems forced the implementation of rolling blackouts disrupting workplace productivity and daily lives.

According to Greg Carlson, executive director of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives and Condominiums (FNYHC), such blackouts are a real possibility this year unless residential buildings and their occupants undertake specific measures to conserve energy. Carlson and the Federation are urging their membership to consider submetering and implementation of a comprehensive energy management (CEM) program.

Have You Reached Your Peak?

Carlson, who lives in Queens, intends to use his own master metered co-op building as a test case for a real-time advanced metering program. This allows residential users to gather critical information about usage patterns so that they can shift to using appliances at off-peak times or during cheaper use time slots as a cost-saving measure. Residential buildings peak later than office buildings so usage patterns greatly differ, says Carlson. In this way, a shareholder or unit owner will see current usage patterns and project cost savings based on altering their usage of lights, air conditioning and other appliances.

"Instead of doing your wash at 7 [o'clock], do it later in the evening and you'll be able to save money and there won't be any upwards surge of our building's maintenance," says Carlson.

Carlson suggests that residents turn off lights when not home or when leaving a room, turning off non-essential appliances and running heavy energy-consuming products at off-peak hours. "You could easily run your dishwasher at 11 p.m. Of course, you would be a lot more likely to alter your habits if it cost more to wash your dishes at 5 p.m. than at 11 p.m.," Carlson says in a report Beyond Submetering sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and co-authored by Lewis Kwit, president of Energy Investment Systems Inc., and J. Reyes Montblanc, president of The HDFC Council.


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  • Utilizing RUBS, Residential Utility Billing System, water costs can be allocated between shareholders or owners. Just like electricity, water should not be in the maintenance as there is no incentive to conserve. One of the ways to reduce water costs is by letting the end user pay for their use. This can be achieved without the use of sub-metering individual residential apartments.