Recently I was showing suites in an upscale, newly constructed condo building in Eau Claire. When I stepped out of the elevator it was like walking into a bright sunny day; the amount of hallway lighting was the most I had ever seen in a condo building. Every 4 feet a wall sconce was on either side of the hall as well as 4 overhead pot lights. You could almost feel the heat coming off the light fixtures. Later I was informed that the condo fee for the suite my clients were interested in had just jumped 30%, due mostly in part to electricity costs! With the amount of lighting in the common areas I saw and the type of light bulbs used this was no surprise.
Here is a classic example of how choosing a greener approach to our lives can actually pay dividends, rather than costing consumers more. The budgeted amount for electricity for this building prior to the condo fee increase was $110,000 for the year. Image if the condo association board for this building chose to change all the common area lighting to compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs. True, there would be an initial cost outlay to purchase new bulbs, at approximately $2 per bulb. However, the CF bulbs have a lifespan of 6,000 hours compared to 750 hours for incandescent bulbs and the energy usage is roughly 25% of incandescent bulbs.
Under this new scenario, the board would be able to reduce condo fees rather than have to increase them! When was the last time that happened? By thinking “green”, the owners of the building could actually save money. The board could go a step further and put in place a building policy that individual unit owners use a minimum number of CF bulbs in their suites as well. In the case of this building, the electricity for the suites is not individually metered and the condo association pays for everyone’s electricity. This small change would be a cost savings for the owners year after year.
The promise of saving a few bucks a year by using 1 CF bulb may not send you rushing out to replace your bulbs. But consider the wider impact when this is applied on a broad scale, as in a condo building. The green benefits suddenly become very tangible, especially to your pocketbook!