GreenCondos_logo.webby Alan Cohen

There’s good news for condo associations in Maryland that are looking to save money while improving their environmental performance. Through a state-mandated surcharge, all utility customers are already paying to fund “EmPOWER Maryland,” a voter-approved initiative to cut statewide energy consumption by 15%. Why is that good news? Because three “EmPOWER Maryland” energy efficiency programs can help mass-metered condo associations cut costs while modernizing their homes and communities. Each program is either partially or even entirely funded by this state initiative, and one even pays you to save energy! Let’s now take a brief look at each opportunity:

  1. Quick Home Energy Check-ups (QHECs) – A Quick Home Energy Check-up (QHEC) is a fast, easy way for residents to reduce energy consumption and costs, and is already fully funded, so you receive the service at no additional cost. During a QHEC, a trained energy technician will assess your home’s current energy use, recommend energy-saving improvements, and install up to $150 worth of basic energy-saving devices, which may include efficient light bulbs, showerheads, and “smart” power strips. To take part, your board will need to approve community-wide participation, plus provide some basic information on your community and access to residents’ homes. For details, please go to QHEC-Pepco.
  2. Pepco’s Walk-Through Energy Assessment (WTEA) Program for Small Business – Through the same suite of programs, some Pepco  multifamily communities – including condo associations – are also entitled to rebates of up to 80% on the installed cost of common-area lighting, HVAC, and building exterior upgrades. You begin the process by selecting a Pepco trade ally specifically approved to deliver the small business program, booking a time for your audit and providing your energy auditor with copies of recent common-area lighting bills. Next, trained energy engineers perform a brief audit of your common areas, which can include high-consuming areas such as pools, fitness centers, stairwells and parking garages.  This audit is usually at no cost, and includes a number of free “direct install” measures that will begin saving you energy immediately. Next, with your approval, your energy auditor will install cutting-edge LED lighting upgrades and other improvements, which can normally be financed to be cash-flow positive from the first month. For more information, please visit Small Business Program – Multi-Family_Pepco.
  3. Energy Wise Rewards – Under this innovative program, Pepco will give you bill credits in exchange for installing a programmable thermostat or outdoor switch at your property and “cycling” it during peak-use times to cut overall energy demand – reducing the need for new power plants. Each condo association and unit owner who decides to participate gets bill credits, plus a per-unit cash bonus if the association itself installs the equipment. The program begins with a free analysis to determine whether your condos’ HVAC systems are compatible with the Energy Wise equipment, and to calculate the size of your cash rebate. For details, please go to Energy Wise Rewards-Business_Pepco.

Alan Cohen is a writer specializing in environmental technology and clean energy. He works with Zerodraft Maryland, a full-service energy management company.