Summer is here and in the midst of such heat, next year’s winter heating season can seem distant. However, the best time to manage next year’s heating costs, if you haven’t started already, is TODAY! Every apartment building has heating costs. In New York, most buildings use steam heat, either bought directly from their utility co. or generated by oil and/or natural gas. Most buildings have old and inefficient boilers and heating systems, which creates both unnecessary costs and carbon output, as well as discomfort. Here are some tips on what to prioritize and where to start:
- Reduce how much fuel the building consumes
- Make the change sooner rather than later
- Make the smaller investments first, so that savings from those pay for larger investments later
Managing Agents normally offer great ESCO bulk programs. However, reducing the unit cost is an immaterial part of the overall heating cost. Cost savings from reducing actual energy usage can often be in the 30-50% range, whereas reducing the cost of energy in today’s low-priced energy environment is minimal. We just opted two of our clients out from their bulk agreements because the rates were actually higher than ConEd’s variable rate.
Overall, it is good to lock in prices when energy prices are rising, and best to stay on a variable rate when energy prices are declining. Based on recent energy data, there seems to be an oversupply of both oil and natural gas, which is estimated to continue and should keep energy prices down for the foreseeable future.
Both ConEd and NYSERDA still have incentives for upgrades to improve efficiencies of heating sources, but at some point, these subsidies may be gone. Eventually, we believe that there’s a possibility that carbon output will be severely curtailed or even outright banned and the buildings that didn’t upgrade will then need to pay for their upgrades without subsidies. Here are some “newer” technologies that significantly reduce energy usage, carbon output and heating costs:
- RadiatorLabs has a radiator cover that not only looks attractive, but it typically cuts energy usage by 30%. It also provides alerts when the steam-traps need to be replaced or when other energy disruptions arise, which reduces the burden on staff and operates more efficiently
- Another “newer” technology in the US (but the primary source of heat and air conditioning in Europe) is Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Heat Pump technology. These are Mitsubishi or Fujitsu systems that are also referred to as ductless split systems or mini-splits
- Many buildings use an old BMS or EMS (energy management system) system. Even if those were installed only a few years ago, the newer, cloud-based systems are significantly more efficient and provide great energy savings (often 10% or so). They also provide more comfort to residents
- Solar has become more affordable and is now a viable option for many buildings
In summary, many boards operate on the assumption that they are already energy efficient because they currently file their LL84 and LL87, which is the law. This is more often false than true. There are many energy efficiency experts and companies. Most of them provide or sell only one or just a few products or services. A building’s heating system is quite complex and there are so many different methods and solutions to reducing the usage of energy. While heating typically can account for as much as 15% of a building’s total costs, reducing usage will have a significant impact on the cost that is ultimately passed on to owners.
Call us today at 917.648.8151 to find out how we can help you cut your costs!