Helping Apartment Dwellers to be Energy Smart and Save

Over half of City of Port Phillip’s residents live in high rise apartment buildings. Many of our residents have told us that living in an apartment building stops them from living sustainably.

We spoke with Gareth from Energy Smart Strata who gave us his top tips for apartment dwellers to live energy smart and save.

Reduce your energy costs

It is important to make sure you are on the best rates. It is recommended to compare electricity and natural gas rates on the Victorian government energy comparison website . The Victorian Government is offering a $50 Power Saving Bonus payment to households who use the comparison between 1 July to 31 December 2018.

Save on energy saving products

The Victorian Government's 'Victorian Energy Saver' program provides a way to for households to save money on the installation of energy-efficient products. This includes: lighting, hot water, weather sealing, heating and cooling, televisions, fridges, dryers, standby power controllers, in-home displays, showerheads, glazing and insulation.

Green Power

You can supply your apartment with clean green renewable power by purchasing Accredited GreenPower. You can choose to offset all your electricity usage, or a portion of your usage. The Green Electricity Guide ranks the environmental performance of electricity retailers.

Understand your energy fixed charges

Your electricity and gas accounts have a fixed service charge. The fixed electricity charge accounted for an average of 40% of all electricity costs. The fixed gas charge accounted for between 16% and 90% of gas costs. It is recommended to check your contract to see if you are getting a discount off usage charges and access charges, or only usage charges.

Understand your energy usage - electricity

You are located in the Citipower electricity network. CitiPower has an online customer portal 'myEnergy' which allows users to download their smart meter data. The myEnergy tool has up to 2 years of historical data, allowing you to easily identify trends in usage. You can register online and download your data.

Understand your energy usage - gas

Gas bills do not include the gas usage associated with common area hot water system supplied by gas boilers. The costs associated with hot water are billed to the body corporate. Hot water can account for 25% of household energy usage. Gas stove and cooktop usage is also not metered. Costs are shared among tenants.

Install window films on inside of glass

There can be high heat gains through windows in summer and high losses during winter. There is an energy saving opportunity to install window film on the inside of the window. A good window film reduce solar heat gains by more than 50% during summer and reduce heat losses through the window by more than 40% during winter.

Upgrade to energy efficient blinds

Energy efficient blinds can be twice as effective as standard blinds as reducing heat gains in summer and heat losses in winter. There are a range of options for energy efficient / thermal blinds such as: honeycomb blinds, roman blinds and combined block-out and reflective opaque blinds.

Draft proof your apartment

Up to 25 per cent of winter heat loss from houses in Victoria is caused by air leakage and draughts. If you notice any drafts you can reduce losses by using door snakes along doors, installing draft seals on doors and draft sealing windows.

Air-conditioner temperature set-point

Over-cooling and over-heating is a common source of household energy wastage. Reducing the set-point temperature of the air-conditioner by just 1℃ can reduce its energy usage by up to 10%.

Solar power

Your apartment complex has a large flat roof area that can potentially accommodate a solar array large enough to supply the daytime usage of both common areas and apartments. Installing solar to supply the entire site may require moving the site onto an embedded network. This is discussed in detail in the sustainability report for you apartment complex.

Energy monitors / in-home displays

Electricity bills provide information on how much energy is used each month or quarter, but do not give any information on the pattern of usage. Home energy monitors / in-home displays show your smart meter data, this helps to understand and track your energy usage and identify energy saving opportunities. As discussed above you can also download your smart meter data online.

Standby power controllers

Standby power can account for up to 5% of total electricity usage. This can be easily reduced by switching off electronic at the power point. If the power point cannot be easily accessed you can buy standby power controllers, such as, switches (an extension chord), power boards that switch all equipment, and even remote controlled and WiFi controlled power-plug controllers.

Energy efficient appliances

When buying a new appliance make sure it has a high energy rating. Energy ratings are required for all: refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners (single phase, non-ducted), televisions and computer monitors.

Hot water - take shorter showers

Hot water can account for 25% of home energy usage. The average Australian takes a 7-minute shower. Reducing your shower by 2-minutes would significantly reduce water and gas usage. As hot water is supplied by a common area hot water system the savings will be seen by the common area water and gas accounts.

Hot water - water efficient shower heads

Inefficient showerheads can use 15L to 20L of water per minute. All showerheads sold in Australia are now required to have a WELS water efficiency rating. A 3 star showerhead consumes less than 9L of water per minute. A water efficiency showerhead will significantly reduce water and gas usage. As hot water is supplied by a common area hot water system the savings will be seen by the common area water and gas accounts.

Water efficient appliances

When buying a new washing machine or dishwasher make sure it has a high water efficiency and energy rating. Front-loading washing machines can use 50% per cent less water than a top loading washer.

Waste - Recycling

The following can be recycled:

  • Glass bottles and jars only

  • Plastic containers with codes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 only

  • Gable-top and long-life milk and juice cartons

  • Aluminium, steel cans, aerosols and clean foil

  • Paper and non-waxed cardboard

For information on what can be recycled, and information on waste services and tips see the Port Phillip Council waste information sheet

Waste - Set up a common area charity bin

There is an opportunity for your apartment complex to set up charity bins to collect quality clothing, shows and bric-a-brac. This should be discussed with the committee.

Waste - Hard waste and green waste collection

Hard waste and green waste dumping is a common issue in apartment buildings. Port Phillip council provides 6 x free hard and green waste collections per year for apartment buildings. It is recommended for apartments to arrange joint collections.

Waste - Chemical and electronic waste

Apartments can drop off household paint and electronic waste at the Port Phillip Resource Recovery Centre (Transfer Station). Other chemicals or other dangerous items can be disposed of at Sustainability Victoria's free household chemical collection days.

Party Like a Sustainability Rock Star

Whether it's Meredith Music Festival, St Kilda Festival or Womadelaide; as the weather warms up thousands of us will be looking forward to weekends packed with music, camping and the dubious joys of festival toilets.

Going to a festival or outdoor event doesn’t mean you have to throw all your sustainable lifestyle choices out the window. With a teeny bit of effort, you can leave knowing you partied as planet-friendly as you possibly could!

First and foremost, do your research – try to choose an event that boasts some serious sustainable credentials, look out for events that;

  • treat their sewerage and grey water on-site

  • reduce waste to landfill through recycling and composting

  • use renewable fuels

  • encourage locally sourced organic food

  • provide and encourage the use of public transport

  • incorporate environmentally themed talks into their programs

Whilst the organisers play a big part in minimising the environmental impact of their event, you can also play a big part.

Here’s our top tips to enjoy events like a sustainability rock star;

Transport - Transport is unsurprisingly the biggest CO2 emitter of any aspect of an event. Try to reach yours by public transport, if you must drive squeeze everyone in, and split the petrol costs, save on parking, take turns driving and best of all, avoid taking multiple cars.

Waste - Waste is of course the most visible concern when it comes to the environment. Don’t litter and sort your waste into the correct bins. Bring your own reusable ‘picnic set’ (plate, cup and cutlery), with these few small items, you could almost go the whole weekend, waste free.

Fashion – Resist the urge to treat yourself to a new outfit and have fun with your wardrobe, visit a local op shop or get together with friends and have a clothes swap.

Tents - Borrow camping gear from friends and family or share different camping items with your tent neighbours.

Water – Leave the slabs of plastic bottled water on the shelf and instead fill up your reusable water bottle from the taps.

Toilets – As unappealing as it can be, use the toilets provided. Peeing at will is not good for the soil

Take it with you – Leave nothing but your footprints

Being sustainable at a festival or event doesn’t mean you need to forgo fun. Making mindful choices and planning a few things in advance will mean you can leave knowing you partied like a sustainability rock star.

 

5 (Passive) Ways to Keep Your Cool at Home

Passive cooling is the least expensive means of cooling a home in both financial and environmental terms. It focuses on heat gain control and heat dissipation in order to improve the indoor thermal content with low or no energy consumption, it’s natural air conditioning.

1. Insulation

Insulation is the most effective way to improve the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. A fully insulated home means you'll spend less on heating in winter and cooling in summer.

2. Draught proofing

Draught proofing, or sealing up gaps and cracks, will minimise the amount of heat entering your home and reduce your cooling bills.

3. Window design, orientation and coverings

Windows can let a lot of heat into your home during summer, especially if you have large west, east and north-facing windows that aren't adequately shaded. Discover simple steps to reduce heat gain through your windows here.

4. Ventilation

Ventilation is an important way to regulate your home's air temperature and keep it free of condensation build-up. Once the temperature starts to drop in the evening, or after a cool change, it's important to open your doors and windows to flush warm air from your house and allow cooler outside air to enter. The benefits are likely to be greatest if you open doors and windows facing the breeze and also doors and windows on the opposite side of the house.

5. Landscaping

Careful selection and positioning of plants can provide summer shading and act as a buffer against hot winds. Tall, deciduous canopy trees provide shade to north windows while still allowing the lower winter sun through. Smaller, deciduous shrubs are useful for shading east and west windows and walls. Deciduous creepers over a north-facing pergola will provide shade for windows and walls.

Save Energy, Boost Comfort with Scorecard

The Scorecard is a new government program to help you reduce energy use in your home, and keep yourself cosy in the process.

Scorecard looks at the way your home is built and insulated, and features like your hot water and heating systems. It is delivered by government-accredited assessors, who give your house a star rating (like the star rating on your fridge or air conditioner) and recommendations for upgrades.

Getting a Scorecard assessment is simple. Visit the website – www.victorianenergysaver.vic.gov.au/scorecard - and contact an assessor for a quote.

For more information, email help.scorecard@delwp.vic.gov.au or call 136 186.

 

Energy Efficiency at Home

As the temperature starts to drop and you begin the annual quest to find your hot water bottle, we wanted to bring you the hot tips to reduce your energy costs, while increasing the comfort of your home. 

These are the quick wins that have minimal cost, require minimal effort and result in big dollar savings. 

Heating

  • Keep the thermostat below 20°C. Every degree higher will increase running costs by around 10%.
  • Close off rooms not in use so you only heat the rooms you are using.
  • Turn the heater off overnight or when you go out, don’t leave it running.
  • Seal up any gaps and cracks under and around doors and windows, use draught excluders and weather stripping on doors and windows, cover evaporative cooler outlets, seal wall vents.
  • If you are going to buy a new heater use the energy rating labels to upgrade to a high efficiency heater.

White Goods

  • Turn off that second fridge when it’s not needed
  • Check your fridge and freezer seals, clean and replace damaged seals.
  • Check that the heat exchange coils at the back of the fridge are clean and well ventilated.
  • Wash clothes with cold water whenever possible
  • Only run your dishwasher when it’s full.

Hot Water

  • Take shorter showers; use a shower timer to make sure everyone has a four minute shower.
  • Install a low flow shower head and save water and energy.
  • Insulate hot water pipes leading from your hot water system into the house.

Lighting

  • Use natural lighting wherever possible.
  • LEDs use much less energy to provide the same amount of light as other forms of lighting. 
  • Switch the lights off when you leave the room and in rooms that aren’t being used

TV and Home Entertainment

  • Turn the TV and entertainment appliances off at the wall when they’re not being used. They are still drawing power in standby mode.
  • Install a ‘standby-killer’ switch or a standby power controller (SPC) to disconnect power to appliances when they’re not being used.

Cooking

  • Only heat the amount of water you need, if you are making a cup of tea for one or two don’t overfill the kettle.
  • Keep lids on pots and pans when cooking and use the right sized pot for hob.
  • Cook in bulk and freeze the excess.
  • Use the microwave for cooking whenever you can, but switch the clock off. More energy is used to power the clock than to cook food.

Additional tips

  • If you do need to upgrade any appliances, choose ones that have a high energy rating. 
  • Appropriate window protection creates an insulating layer of still air on the inside of the glass. This can be achieved by the addition of thick curtains and a pelmet.
  • Using rugs helps to prevent heat loss.  

 

 

Funding For Sustainable Businesses

Forty eight per cent of greenhouse gas emissions generated in Port Phillip comes from the non-residential sector. Funding opportunities can help to make it possible for businesses to operate more sustainably; improving energy efficiency, accessing renewable energy and reducing water and waste. 

We've compiled a list of funding opportunities that are open to businesses within Port Phillip looking to operate more sustainably. 

Commercial Building Efficiency
Cut your buildings costs by saving materials, managing waste or improving energy efficiency

Energy Assessment Grants
An energy assessment will identify potential energy efficiency improvements for your business, review pricing tariffs and suitable renewable energy options.

Gas Efficiency Grants
Grants of up to $50,000 are available for businesses to improve energy productivity and affordability, support jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Materials Efficiency Program
The Boosting Productivity materials efficiency grants program is open to manufacturing businesses with potential to improve materials efficiency.

Social Impact Investment For Sustainability
The Victorian Government is supporting investment-ready social enterprises to create new jobs, respond to climate change and improve resource efficiency. 

Victorian Energy Upgrades
This is a Victorian Government program providing households and businesses with access to discounts on energy-efficient products and services.

Future Industries Fund Manufacturing Program                           Businesses can decrease their energy use per unit of output as a result of acquiring state-of-the-art manufacturing capability.

Future Industries Fund Sector Growth Program                           This program could support a group of businesses looking to investigate a shared infrastructure solution that would assist in managing energy costs.

New Energy Technologies                                                       The Victorian Government's $20 million New Energy Jobs Fund will support Victorian-based projects that create long-term sustainable jobs.

Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme                                    The SRES creates a financial incentive for households, small businesses and community groups to install eligible small-scale renewable energy systems such as solar water heaters, heat pumps, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, small-scale wind systems, or small-scale hydro systems.

Sustainable Melbourne Fund
Businesses can apply for finance to fund any improvements to their energy, water or waste performance, including installing solar.

If you are aware of other sustainable funding opportunities for businesses in Port Phillip please email us at enviro@portphillip.vic.gov.au   
 

Smarter travel options

A comprehensive transport system is at the heart of a liveable community, making it easier for all of us to go about our daily lives. The City of Port Phillip is committed to delivering an integrated transport network that connects people and places.

Limited parking availability and increasing congestion on road networks, makes driving cars increasingly unviable. However, City of Port Phillip has safe, attractive and viable transport alternatives

Choosing sustainable transport options (walking, cycling, and public transport) has numerous social, economic and environmental benefits:

  • Healthier, more active communities 
  • Socially connected, more liveable communities
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Transport efficiency and reduced space required for vehicle movement and storage
  • Accessible for all members of the community
  • Improved safety for everyone all road users

Here are some examples of the environmental impact we can all make by choosing a sustainable travel option. 

Walking 

Walking helps keeps us fit and healthy and is a great way to exercise for all ages. If you walk rather than drive for 30 mins you would reduce carbon emissions by 1 kg. 

Cycling

Bikes cost nothing to pedal and they generate zero carbon emissions. A 10 km daily bike commute would save 1500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

Public transport

One full bus can take more than 50 cars, and their emissions, off the road.

Learn more about smarter travel options within the City of Port Phillip here

Reduce your carbon emissions

Australia ranks among the highest carbon polluting countries in the world. Making simple changes in our daily lives – at home, in our shopping choices and even how we travel – can reduce our carbon footprint and save you money too. Here's some simple tips to that will make a big difference. 

1. Save up to 20% of your household electricity consumption by switching off and unplugging unused lights and appliances. 

2. Energy efficient lighting, like LED and fluorescents, can halve your lighting energy use.

3. Choose appliances with high energy efficiency ratings, each star represents up to 20% greater efficiency.

4. Switch on to clean renewable energy, choose a provider that is renewables friendly and purchase their 'green power' product. 

5. 40% of household energy in Australia is used in heating and cooling homes. Reduce your reliance on appliances by;

  • Keeping windows shaded
  • Insulating walls, ceilings and floors
  • Draught proofing your home

6. Going solar at home means saving money on electricity bills and reduces your carbon footprint. Over 2 million Australian homes are already powered by the sun. 

7. Transport accounts for 34% of Australia's total household greenhouse gas emissions.Reduce air travel where you can. Drive less, and opt for public transport, walking, cycling or carpooling instead. If you must drive, then consider a hybrid electric vehicle or offsetting your emissions.

8. When shopping make environmentally friendly choices. Buy recycled, shop local, buy less meat, choose biodegradable products, avoid product packaging that ends up in landfill and of course where possible don't buy new products. 

9. Minimise your food waste by planning your shopping and meals more carefully, re-using leftovers and composting. 

 

 

 

Reduce your water use

Reducing water consumption in the home is a simple and easy way to decrease water and energy bills and lessen your household’s impact on the environment.

Conserving water resources, even in areas without shortages, has many benefits;

  • lowers energy requirements for treating and transporting water and wastewater
  • reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • reduces the need to build dams or extract water from rivers
  • decreases wastewater produced and treated at sewage plants.

Every household can cut down water use at low cost, often with costs recouped through water and energy savings within one year.

Six ways to minimise water use

  1. Reduce indoor water use by choosing water efficient showers, toilets, taps and appliances.
  2. Minimise outdoor water use by choosing plants that are appropriate for local growing conditions and by including low water use areas in the garden design through the use of indigenous plants or low water use species (see Outdoor water use).
  3. Minimise paving of outdoor areas as this increases heat radiation and water runoff from the site.
  4. Wash cars and bikes on the lawn to water grass at the same time.
  5. Sweep paths and drives instead of hosing them down.
  6. Reuse water where possible to reduce the consumption of potable water for non-potable purposes.

Go solar at home

Installing solar panels at home will allow you to generate renewable energy and reduce your electricity bills. Solar makes great sense for some buildings, but not for others. The first thing to find out is whether it will work for your building. When choosing to install solar power, it's important to consider the following:

Placement

When deciding whether to install new solar panels, keep in mind that adjoining land and dwellings may be developed in the future, or a tree or fast growing hedge may impact the effectiveness of your solar panels from overshadowing.

The ideal placement for solar panels in Melbourne is an unshaded roof pitch of 30º, facing due north. Although if this is not achievable orienting panels to the east or west are still viable options.

Visibility

Minimise the visibility of a system from the street, and its impact on surrounding properties and public areas especially if your land is covered by a heritage overlay.

Roof Structure

It's important to assess the orientation of your roof, the ease of access to the installation site and the structural integrity of the roof, which all impact on the viability of installing solar panels on your roof.

Property Boundaries

Where possible avoid placing the system on or near the property boundary without first obtaining consent from the adjoining property owner(s).

Overshadowing

Despite careful panel placement of solar panels, some overshadowing may still occur. As long as this is not greater than 20% of the surface area of your system over the warmer months, energy generation will generally still be effective

Installer

Ensure that the system is installed by a qualified professional, accredited by the Clean Energy Council.

Heritage Overlay

A heritage overlay does not necessarily prevent a solar panel installation. You will need to apply for  a planning permit if your property is covered by a heritage overlay area and the proposed solar panel system is visible from the street.In the last 12 months, ninety percent of applications for solar in heritage areas have been approved. 

Planning Permit Fee Waiver

As part of the City of Port Phillip’s commitment towards environmental sustainability the application fee typically associated with obtaining a planning permit will not be required for applications to install solar panels. For more information contact the Planning Department on 03 9209 6424.

 

For more information on photovoltaic and solar hot water systems please contact our Sustainable Design Officer on 9209 6303 or email  sustainabledesign@portphillip.vic.gov.au.  

Composting made easy

By composting your food scraps instead of sending them to landfill, households can significantly reduce their Climate Change footprint. About 3% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions comes from organic matter rotting in landfills. That is about as much as the entire country’s aviation industry.

Step 1 - Choose a site

Place your compost heap or bin in a well-drained area that has some shade. Too much sun will dry out your compost.

Step 2 - What to compost

  • Green Ingredients: Compost needs a mixture of nitrogen rich organic materials such as fruit and vegetable peelings, and green garden vegetation such as fresh grass clippings and green leaves.
  • Brown Ingredients: Nitrogen-poor, carbon rich materials such as dry leaves, woody twigs, paper and straw.
  • Water
  • Some soil or completed compost to introduce composting micro-organisms

Step 3 - Layering

Start with a thick layer of coarse material (15cm), such as twigs or mulch, this is used for drainage. Then follow with a layered A,B,C system using the materials above A. Garden clippings and kitchen scraps, B. Dry leaves and paper (wet). C. Add water after each layer to keep the heap moist but not wet. Then repeat steps ABC. Finish with step D. Sprinkling soil or finished compost on top of food scraps will make a richer compost and help reduce odour.

Step - 4. Maintaining Your Compost 

Keep your compost well aerated to prevent foul odour or methane. Turn your compost with a garden fork on a weekly basis. Otherwise place garden stakes or pipes through the heap to allow air in.

What to add to a Compost Heap

  • Vegetable and food scraps
  • Fallen leaves (in layers)
  • Tea leaves and tea bags
  • Coffee grounds
  • Vacuum cleaner dust
  • Soft stems
  • Dead flowers
  • Old potting mix
  • Used vegetable cooking oil
  • Egg shells
  • Old newspapers (wet)
  • Grass cuttings in layers
  • Weeds
  • Sawdust (not from teated timber)
  • Wood ash
  • Human and animal hair

What not to add to a Compost Heap

  • Meat and dairy products
  • Diseased plants
  • Metals, plastic, glass
  • Animal manures (especially the droppings of cats and dogs)
  • Fat
  • Magazines
  • Large branches
  • Weeds that have seeds or underground stems
  • Bread or cake (may attract mice)
  • Bones
  • Sawdust from treated timber

Depending on the mix of ingredients the duration for the compost to turn into a rich soil can be anything from 6 weeks to 6 months.

 

Minimise your waste

What we consume and the packaging it comes in creates over a tonne of waste per household per year. Therefore, we need to be conscious of what we purchase and consider whether we really need it.

Minimising your waste can have significant social, economic and environmental benefits. But nothing is waste—until we throw it away. So become more aware of how we create waste and the variety of ways we can reduce, re-use and recycle. 

Reduce

  • Become informed about the environmental impacts of products. If not satisfied, search for better alternatives
  • Bulk buy when possible, but don't buy more than can be used
  • Choose products with less packaging
  • Choose products with recyclable or reusable packaging
  • Carry reusable shopping bags or boxes
  • Say 'no' to unnecessary plastic bags and other packaging
  • Re-use plastic bags and all types of containers over and over again
  • Buy quality goods that will last
  • Encourage manufacturers to play their part.

Reuse 

  • Look for products in reusable, refillable or recyclable packaging when shopping.
  • Donate unwanted clothing, furniture and white goods to charities.
  • Enquire if goods can be repaired rather than replaced.
  • Hold a garage sale.
  • Use rechargeable batteries rather than single-use batteries and ask the local council about how to dispose of batteries properly.
  • Use retreaded tyres if they are appropriate.
  • Use glass bottles and jars, plastic bags, aluminium foil and take away food containers over and over again before recycling or disposing of them.
  • Carry lunches in a reusable container rather than disposable wrappings.
  • Re-use envelopes and use both sides of paper.

Recycle 

  • Separate recyclables such as glass, plastic, paper and metal from other rubbish - depending on what your local council will collect.
  • Do not put recyclables in the bin in a plastic bag.
  • Recycle kitchen and garden scraps, which can make up almost 50 percent of garbage, as compost.
  • Get involved in local school and community recycling schemes.
  • Keep potentially hazardous household waste such as motor oil, batteries, pesticides and paint out of landfill sites-council will provide information about how to dispose of them safely.
  • Encourage friends and family to get involved in recycling at home, at school and in the workplace.

It is all of our responsibilities to change the way we think and act, to tackle the problem of waste production and disposal.

Click here to learn more about waste management within City of Port Phillip.