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programmable thermostat

Keeping Costs Down in the Winter – Condo Edition 

According to a study published in, Massachusetts residents have some of the highest utility bills in the U.S., dishing out an average of $469 a month for gas, electricity, and related costs. All six New England states ranked in the Top 10 nationwide. How can you keep these costs down this winter? 

If these numbers and standings alarm you, realize that you are not alone. In fact, you may be one of the millions of Bostonians looking to reduce their bills this winter. 

Cutting utility bills is the dream of most homeowners as the winter draws closer and the temperatures drop. Living in New England means snow storms and Nor’easters for months on end and consequently keeping the heat on from late fall to mid spring. Thankfully there are some fairly simple steps to keeping your heating costs down as the winter progresses. 

smart home tech

A Programmable Thermostat

A great way to keep the utility bills down during the colder months is to invest in a programmable thermostat. This type of temperature control device can provide comfortable heating while you are home while automatically lowering the temperature when you are at work or away from your property. The automatic temperature adjustments can happen in the unit or from a smartphone. It can mean a major lowering of your energy bills. 

Insulating Doors and Windows 

Obviously one of the major ways that cold air enters a property is through the small openings around doors and windows. These types of leaks can eat away at your heating bill and cause a higher usage bill. 

Try sealing your doors and windows to keep cold air from entering your unit. Door sweeps and window caulking can do wonders to keep out drafts and air leaks. Insulation can also make a huge difference in the energy bills you will see monthly. 

sun shining in window

Use Natural Heating 

Depending upon the sun’s direction in your unit, you may be able to use the natural heating of the sun for your unit to reduce your energy bills. When the sun is shining directly on your unit, take advantage of that natural heating by opening shades and allowing as much sunlight as possible to naturally heat your space. After the direct heating has moved, try closing the curtains to keep as much of that natural heating in as possible. 

Tell us your tricks to cutting your heating bills throughout the winter! Leave us a note in the comments or on our Facebook page.  We love to get ideas from our readers and pass them along to others. 


What Are Nuisance Behaviors in an HOA? 

Most homeowners love living in a community. They enjoy the freedom from having to care for the outside of their home or landscaping, access to amenities like a fitness room or pool, and they mostly appreciate having good neighbors with whom to socialize. Unfortunately, there are times when even a good neighbor can get on everyone’s nerves with nuisance behaviors. 

How Do You Define a Nuisance Behavior? 

Nuisance complaints are a major cause of legal action in HOAs, both by and against homeowners. Typically nuisance behaviors include: an activity that unreasonably interferes with the use or quiet enjoyment of another resident, a behavior that is hazardous, noxious or offensive, or one that is a violation of a local, state, or federal law.

Sometimes these rules are just common sense, like don’t ride a skateboard in your unit hallway at 2 in the morning thus waking everyone in the building. Other rules, however, should be clearly spelled out so that each unit owner is aware of expected behaviors. This is extremely important when living in a community where neighbors units abut each other. 

Common Nuisance Behaviors 

Every community is different, but some of the most common complaints address: noise, smoking in restricted areas, pet issues, bad behaviors of children or homeowners, and disputes about home businesses. 

Noise Complaints

When units are arranged so that neighbors are living on top of each other, there are often problems with noises from above whether it is a loud neighbor, or one who’s lifestyle has them awake or asleep at opposing hours to the other residents. Noise becomes a contentious issue that can often be solved between neighbors in a respectful way. 

Noise complaints often come from common areas where groups may not be aware of how loud they are or how voices can carry. Usually a friendly reminder can solve the problem. 

Smoking Complaints 

The hazards of being exposed to secondhand smoke and the foul odor associated with this behavior can be enough to cause a serious issue between neighbors in an HOA. This is why it is extremely important for governing boards to clearly spell out where smoking is prohibited. Common areas where all homeowners can congregate should be marked as non-smoking so all community members can enjoy the space. If a homeowner is reported as violating this rule, s/he may face fines or legal action. 

Bad Behaviors 

Children and adults alike should be made aware that their behavior impacts others, especially in a close knit community. If homeowners are unable to follow the common rules of being quiet in the hallways and common areas, or showing courtesy in the amenity areas, then some HOA boards reserve the right to revoke use of the common areas and amenities. Consult your condo documents to see what level of noise and behaviors may be considered inappropriate. 

Pet Behaviors 

No one wants to hear a dog barking at all hours of the day or night. Typically an HOA has pet ordinances that encourage homeowners to keep their pets on a leash, dispose of pest waste, and notify homeowners on where in the community dogs are allowed. Some communities that do allow dogs have restrictions on the type, breed, and size of the pets. Be sure to consult the rules in order to keep your pet from violating nuisance behaviors.

Do you have nuisance behavior issues in your community? How was it handled? Were you satisfied with the results? Questions or comments? Contact Thayer Associates on our contact page or call us at (617) 354-6480