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Luxury condo buildings sucking twice as much power as older ones, BC Hydro says

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WATCH: A new report from BC Hydro says the amenities in many newer condo and apartment buildings are using a huge amount of electricity. Nadia Stewart has the numbers – Apr 12, 2019

If you live in a newly-built luxury condo building, you may be enjoying some of the perks being offered: swimming pools, fitness centres, even movie theatres and bowling alleys.

But a new report from BC Hydro says those amenities come at a cost — and it could nearly double your hydro bill, despite the buildings being advertised as energy-efficient.

“The average bill of someone living in a condo or apartment in B.C. is about $40 a month,” BC Hydro spokesperson Tanya Fish said.

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“If they were to pay for all the electricity used by these extra amenities and common spaces, it would [cost] about an additional $40 a month in electricity costs to their bill.”
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Condo dwellers are still seeing those costs, however, in the form of strata fees.

The report released Friday found the energy drawn from everything outside individual suites in these newer buildings accounts for half of these newer buildings’ electricity use. That’s compared to condo buildings built in the 1980s, whose common spaces accounted for 25 per cent.

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The buildings studied were largely erected between 2011 and 2017.

It also says more people are living in these condo developments after seeing a 22 per cent increase in condo accounts since 2011, now representing nearly half a million accounts in total.

Fish said those dwellers may not realize the impact their building may be having while looking at a potentially average hydro bill.

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“There seems to be a disconnect between what their perceived energy footprint is and what their actual energy footprint is by living in one of these high-rises,” she said.

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Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Homeowners Association of B.C., said the findings aren’t a surprise.

“I think most new condo buildings being built across B.C. are luxury condos, when you look at the amenities and the standards of construction and the high-end units, especially in the upper floors,” he said.

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Gioventu said another problem is the energy use in condos themselves, with more owners buying interior air conditioners, fans and heaters to combat an ever-changing climate.

“When you have buildings that are all glass, there’s no place to mount external air conditioning units or heat pumps,” he said. “So a lot of these buildings don’t have these systems in place at all.”

Fish said that with many of the extra amenities running 24 hours a day, BC Hydro recommends installing sensors that would only turn on the power in the presence of tenants.

It also recommends switching lighting to LED bulbs, which are already being used in individual suites.

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