Sustainable living reduces costs, saves the planet and will reduce the impact you and your family make on an increasingly fragile world. So how do you make your patch of apartment paradise a greener place to live?
Scope out solar
While most of the time adding Photovoltaic panels requires the whole building to get on board, individual apartments can go down that path as well, provided the apartment has its own electricity meter. Smartblocks.com.au (a national program working to cut apartment energy use) says apartment buildings four storeys or less work best for this and you will need to negotiate space on the common roof area with your owners’ corporation. Start by asking the Clean Energy Council for members familiar with apartment solar.
Control your climate
Heating and cooling normally represent about 18 per cent of the average WA household power bill, but if you find yourself running air-conditioning much of the year expect it to eat up much more. If you are running the air-con, set your temperature to 24 in summer and 20 in winter, which is enough to be comfortable without placing additional demands on the system. If your windows face west, close curtains in summer to keep heat out and leave them open in winter to warm the room. If you can, attach a timer to your air-conditioning system so it comes on a few hours before you get home and gradually warms or cools your apartment as that uses less energy than turning it on at maximum power for a quick fix.
Vanquish a vampire
An extraordinary amount of power is drained by the standby setting of common appliances, including your telly, PlayStation, set top box and that DVD player that hasn’t been touched since 2011. The worst offenders are computers and related equipment, such as speakers, monitors, printers and scanners, but LCD televisions and other entertainment equipment are also big vampires sucking away at your power bills. Individually it might not sound like much, but the average Australian home has 67 appliances that run on mains power so if you are not using the appliance, turn it off at the wall rather than leaving it on standby.
Upgrade the goods
Got an old banger of a fridge? It’s probably costing you as much in extra electricity every few years as buying a new high star-rated model. Refrigeration uses about 15 per cent of the average energy in a WA home and it runs all day, every day. Buying a fridge with three stars rather than two will reduce your running costs by 20 per cent. Buying a four star one reduces yours costs by 20 per cent again. An average two-door 1.5 star model might cost you $212 a year. A 4.5 star version the same size will cost just $126. The same goes for any big appliance, from your LED TV to your washing machine – the more stars the better.
Take over your council
There are some decisions that are best made collectively, so work with the council of owners on how you can reduce whole-building demand, not just the little corner you call home. That way you can replace inefficient lights in common areas, upgrade pool pumps that are energy guzzlers and look at options like sensors for lighting, LED strips and water efficient reticulation or taps throughout the complex.
The good news for apartment dwellers is that you are already great environmental citizens – living more sustainably with a lower carbon footprint than most people living in detached homes. With a little effort, though, you can go even greener.
Like this story? Read more advice on apartment living in our High Life magazine, available from our sales offices.