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.