Why Associations Should Do It All:
Utility Audits, Energy Audits, Conservation, Equipment Upgrades, Retrofitting, Rebates and Brokering … But In The Right Order!
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO DO ALL IN THE RIGHT ORDER!
You do not want to do energy audits, conservation, retrofitting, equipment upgrades, rebates or brokering before a utility audit – Why?
1) Potential Undercharges: You do not want to inadvertently alert your utility company to undercharges, or you will receive a big back bill and higher future utility bills! A utility audit will alert you to these undercharges WITHOUT alerting your utility company – others cannot!
2) Energy Audits/Conservation/Retrofitting: Payback on new equipment is not always cost-effective. Going solar might sound great, but what if the equipment payback period is ten years or longer, and there are less expensive electric rates that could cut your bill in half NOW, without any costs?
3) Rebates / Utility Company Audit Programs: Your goals and your utility company’s goals are not always the same: you want short-term and long-term utility savings and the utility companies want federal and state funding by issuing a certain amount of rebates or filling quotas of new rate options forced on them by the Public Utility Commission. Most associations never recovered the cost of florescent lighting retrofits when LED lights were introduced!
4) Brokering: Your goals and broker’s goals are not always the same: you want short-term and long-term utility savings and the brokers want to purchase gas in bigger bulk rates to expand their territories. Gas cost savings is minimal, and your headaches due to subsequent complicated bills and poor customer service is substantial.
The moral of this story is that energy audits, conservation, retrofitting, equipment upgrades/rebates and brokering can be cost-effective if they are done with the right foresight and knowledge. However, we have seen too many situations where our clients had made poor choices that actually cost them money!
For example, one client had switched to a broker for gas, then asked us to audit their utility bills. We discovered that they had forfeited $112,000.00 in gas overcharges – money that we could have recovered for them at no cost, and they could have still switched to a broker after our utility audit, with an additional $112,000.00 in their bank account!
Another client had installed solar panels for their recreation / pool area. The payback on this equipment was TWENTY years!!! We could have reduced this electric bill by 60% simply by switching their electric rate schedule!
Still another client had installed water submeters to measure their irrigation water, so they would not be paying sewer fees on this irrigation water. The cost of the submeters and plumbing retrofit was over $25,000.00, and their estimated payback for this project was TEN years!!! In actuality, they ended up paying higher sewer fees on their domestic water, so there was NO cost savings… after spending $25,000.00! We could have reduced the sewer service fees on ALL of tier water, both domestic and irrigation, at NO COST, and they would be saving money each month on their water bills!
We have hundreds more of these stories…. Be safe, not sorry – always do a utility audit FIRST!!!