With rising temperatures in summer and out of season weather only increasing, energy conservation is becoming more and more important. With so many factors that are outside our control, such as mass destruction of habitats for farmland, many people are wondering what they can do. Energy conservation is a good way for your HOA to make a difference. By making a few changes you can make a big difference. Saving energy is not only good for the planet, but it’s also good for your wallet. Water, electricity, heating and cooling systems are all expensive, and the more everyone saves, the better. If you need another reason, having fewer air pollutants in and around your community makes that the air is better. Cleaner air improves health and respiratory systems.
There are many things an association can do to improve energy conservation. Within the common spaces in your HOA, and also to encourage your residents to improve how much energy they save. So what can you actually do?
In outside common spaces, you can plant more trees for more shade. Built-up areas tend to be hotter than rural areas, and planting trees can reduce that extra heat. If trees can give shade to nearby houses in your community association, they can cool down the buildings drastically. This reduces how much energy the building then needs to consume. Trees also release oxygen, making your HOA’s air purer. If you need another reason, trees improve water quality and they have been shown to reduce sidewalk maintenance. Using MowGreen, a quiet lawn mower that doesn’t require gas could lessen noise pollution and chemicals in the air. This is a simple step your HOA could take to being more environmentally friendly.
A pool loses about 95% of its heat at the surface, so a pool cover can lower this in a big way. You can buy solar pool covers, which not only reduces evaporation but also heats up your swimming pool. If you heat your pool, switch it off outside of opening hours, or peak times. Otherwise, simply plant a hedge to create a windbreak to reduce heat loss. Another idea is to pick a darker finish for your pool to increase natural heat absorption.
Some States offer policies and incentives for people to buy energy efficient pool appliances to help you invest in a ‘green’ pool. If none of these are possible simply maintaining your pool’s cleaning system can massively improve energy consumption. Showers in the changing areas could be fitted with water-reducing heads, and toilets could be low-flow to reduce water consumption.
Indoor common spaces can become more environmentally friendly by installing LED lights, which can use up to 80% less energy, and last much longer. Green Creative is a start-up specializing in LED lighting, which offers a wide range of products for every need. Install a programmable thermostat so that it switches on when the area is in use, and off afterward. Make sure it is set to a reasonable temperature, and not turned up too high.
Nest is a company that makes thermostats that you can control from your phone, so you can always be aware of what’s happening temperature-wise. Sealing and insulating buildings are one of the best ways to reduce the loss of energy. Air slips out of cracks in windows, doors, electrical outlets, pipes, and wires. When these are well sealed you can really improve your energy efficiency. Light colored walls and high gloss paint also reflect light, so you can take advantage of the natural light, rather than switching on lamps.
Surfaces, the roofs of buildings could become living roofs. A living roof means you plant plants there to increase insulation, absorb rainwater and cool down the building. Or cool roofs, which are made to reflect more sun, and absorb less of the sun rays. Otherwise, solar panels are an excellent option to produce energy for the building and many States offer rebates to people who install them.
In fitness facilities, bamboo flooring is increasing in popularity, as it is fast growing and easily recyclable. Cork is another possibility, as is recycled rubber which is durable, easy to clean and eco-friendly. Where heating is required underfloor heating is more effective than more traditional heating.
Campaigns make a huge difference in people’s behavior. Putting up a sign in your swimming or gym changing rooms reminding people to not use too many paper towels or soap and not to leave the tap running can really make a difference in their behavior. In Vinteum Neigbrs you can post tips for your residents to reduce energy consumption in community news, or via texts. By posting online instead of sending a paper newsletter you would also be reducing how much paper you use.
Highlighting the benefits of saving energy can really help to change behavior. Ideas of ways they could change how much energy they use would be to wash clothes in colder water and to always put on full loads of laundry. Or making sure they clean their heating and/or cooling systems at least once a year. Other ideas include encouraging them to buy energy efficient appliances, turning off lights and electronics and to always recycle well.
All these steps can make a huge difference to your HOA’s carbon footprint as well as your residents’ health. 2019 is a new chance to start afresh and make your HOA more green.