Published onDecember 17th, 2020
Why Is the Electric Bill So High for My Apartment Building? 12 Proven Steps to Reduce Apartment Electric Bills
Is the electric bill for your New York City apartment building outrageous? It doesn’t have to be. Here are 12 steps, many of which you can take right now, to reduce electric bills for your property.
Understand How Your Bill Is Calculated
Kilowatt hours and Con Edison rate programs
Your electricity use is measured on your meter in units of kilowatt hours (kWh). The number of kilowatt hours you use each month multiplied by Con Edison’s price per kilowatt hour is roughly the amount you must pay on each bill.
However, there can be variations to this equation. For example, if your electricity use exceeds a certain amount, you may be billed at a higher rate. You may also be billed at an hourly or seasonal rate that takes into account total demand on the power grid.
You may be able to affect your electric bill by making sure you don’t exceed the threshold for a more costly rate. You can also talk to Con Ed about different programs that might help you reduce electricity expenses.
Maintain Your Boiler
Provide efficient heating
You might be wondering how maintaining your boiler relates to reducing your electric bill. After all, your boiler uses gas, not electricity, to provide steam heat and hot water. However, if your boiler isn’t functioning properly, leaving tenants without adequate warmth in their units, they may resort to supplementing with electric heaters. If you pay the electricity, this can increase every unit’s bill by hundreds of dollars each month.
Insulate Your Property
Reduce lost energy
Maybe your boiler is working fine, but all the heat you’re generating is going to the outside because your property is poorly insulated. Again, this results in tenants using electric heaters, which can run up your bill. Make sure your doors and windows seal properly. Add insulation to walls and ceilings to prevent heat loss. Consider adding thermal windows or more insulating window treatments.
Insulate Your Pipes
Prevent heat loss
Another place where heat can be lost is in your pipes. This is true whether you’re providing steam for radiators or hot water for taps. What are some signs of pipes that need insulating?
- Inadequate heat or hot water in tenant units
- Frost or condensation appearing on pipes
- Burst pipes in winter
- Boiler or hot water heater cycling constantly
- Noisy pipes
Install Ceiling Fans
Create even temperatures
You can prevent tenants from feeling forced to use electric heaters or turn up the air conditioning in summer by installing ceiling fans, which work all year long. In the winter, run ceiling fans in a clockwise direction to redistribute warm air, which rises to the top of the room. In summertime, reverse the direction of the blades to create a wind chill effect and provide additional cooling at a lower cost.
Take Care of Your Water Heater
Don’t waste electricity
Many smaller apartment buildings rely on electric hot water heaters rather than industrial boilers. If you don’t take care of your hot water heater, though, it can run constantly and drive up your electric bill. Service your heater regularly, and always call a pro if you notice strange noises, malodorous water, or sediment in your water. Your heat element can become trapped in sediment at the bottom of the tank, and the tank will run nonstop trying to keep the water hot.
Tired of water heater troubles? Another option is to install tankless heaters for every unit. These provide hot water on demand, so there is no heater running when hot water isn’t being used.
Communicate with Tenants
Stay aware of utility problems
One of the best ways to avoid some of the scenarios described above is to stay in communication with your tenants. Let them know you want to hear immediately if there are any problems with heat, hot water, or electricity. This way, you can keep small problems from turning into big ones that are inevitably more expensive.
Use energy-efficient models
If you’re using old appliances in your units, they could be adding to your electric bill too. Old refrigerators, in particular, tend to use loads of electricity, as they run continually to keep food cold. This is often due to old motors and compressors coupled with leaky door gaskets. It’s an expense to upgrade to energy-efficient models, but it will be worth it in the long run with the savings you reap. Look for Energy Star appliances that cost less to run and may even qualify for tax credits.
Swap Out Your Lightbulbs
The larger your property, the more light fixtures you use in lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and other public spaces. If you’re still using old-fashioned incandescent bulbs in those fixtures, you’re wasting money. While it costs more upfront to swap out old bulbs for more energy-efficient LED versions, you’ll save in the long term. The bulbs will last much longer, and best of all, they use less electricity.
Submeter Your Electricity
Don’t foot your tenants’ bills
Do you pay the electric bill for your entire property? Even if you try to account for electricity use in the rent, you may be paying more than you need to. Especially with more people working and going to school at home these days, you may be footing the bill for your tenants’ extra power needs.
It may be time to submeter your building. This means installing a meter for each unit, allowing your tenants to handle their own electric bills. You only have to cover the cost of electricity for public and non-residential spaces.
Install Programmable Thermostats
Use less heat
If your tenants control the temperature of their units, using programmable thermostats can help you save considerably. These devices allow users to lower the heat in winter when they’re sleeping or reduce air conditioning use in the summer when they’re not at home.
Consider Using an Energy Management System
Automate heating, lights, and more
A step up from programmable thermostats is to use an energy management system. This is an automated system that you can either run in-house or outsource to a specialist. Sensors send information about temperature, lights, and more to a control center, which then makes adjustments as needed to meet predetermined criteria.
Using an energy management system can eliminate unnecessary energy use and significantly reduce your electric bill. The more you fine tune and utilize the system, the more data you can collect, which can further help you lower costs.
Do you need help implementing steps to reduce electric bills for your property? Bolt Electric is happy to provide a consultation. Call us at 212-434-0098 or reach out online to schedule an appointment today.