J.H. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I recently moved into a two-building condo complex, 63 apartments altogether. The buildings were totally electric. That was a big plus for me as electric is the future, cleaner, no combustible fuels, no carbon monoxide etc. Now. the water heaters are in bad shape and need to be replaced – the Board (with input of the management company, I am sure) decided to replace the electric water heaters with gas! They will tear up the parking lot, install gas pipes, and gas water heaters. I live on the first floor and the water heaters room just a few feet away. They say to replace the water heaters with electric rather than gas would cost 100k more. This seems short-sighted to me! The world is going electric as there are many ways to generate electricity – think GM going all electric in cars! Gas is an old fuel whose time has come and gone for use in apartment buildings. In the short term it might be cheaper, but in the long-term they will be tearing out those gas water heaters and putting in electric in ten years or less is my guess. What do you think?
There are also tankless electric water heaters one resident mentioned. They are used in those huge buildings in NYC for instance. The Board says “for some reason, they can’t remember why” tankless can’t be used in these two buildings? I also don’t entirely trust Property Managers to give the best advice as they all have their own agendas and little connections – and they might be encouraging this gas installation…
What do you think? I want to push this issue – but I am a new resident and not sure if I have a good case. Is electric a better bet long term? (We all heat and cool our own units with heaters/AC units in each room of our own apartments).
Mister Condo replies:
J.H., I appreciate your thoughts on making your community as energy responsible as it can be. There are lots of advantages of seeking renewable energy and may communities take the challenge of keeping things as “green” as possible. However, there is no mandate in place that forces an association to seek out the most environmentally responsible solution to their problems. They do have to answer to their fellow homeowners, yourself included, and you most certainly have the right to state your opinion at an upcoming Board meeting. That being said, the Board will likely make the best decision they can given the information they have. That decision may very well be to replace the failed electric water heaters with natural gas water heaters. Short-sighted or not, once the Board makes the decision, it will stand as they are your democratically elected leaders who are charged with conducting business such as this. You have the right to attend meetings. You can write to the Board. You can speak with your fellow homeowners. My guess is most will just care that they will have hot water and not so much as to how the hot water gets delivered but I could be wrong. At the end of the day, the best way to have a voice on your Board is to run and get elected. It is democracy at work in your condominium association. those elected to serve get to make the important decisions. All the best!