Energy usage and energy costs is an often forgotten area in strata plans. The first step in tackling energy usage and costs is to carry out an energy audit, showing just how much common area energy is costing you.
Energy Smart Strata’s research study has show that, for 15 mid-sized apartment buildings in Sydney, the average cost of common area electricity was $400 a year per apartment. In one 10-storey apartment building the owners were paying $750 per apartment just to power their common area lights and equipment.
More often then not most apartment owners don’t realise just how much energy it takes to power common equipment, and just how much it is costing.
Once sites have seen just how much this energy is costing the next step is simple. Look at ways to reduce energy usage.
Some simple energy saving measures can be achieved in-house, for example look to see if any exterior lighting is left on during the day.
Most apartment buildings however contain a wide range of lighting and equipment. The energy efficiency market is growing day by day, with new emerging technologies, and new companies all spruiking their own products with claims that sometimes can be too good to be true. It is getting increasingly difficult for sites to identify the most practical and cost effective ways to save energy.
The best way to identify options to save energy and money is to employ an independent energy consultant to conduct an energy audit of your building (sometimes known as an electricity audit).
The cost of an energy audit is often only a small fraction of your annual electricity spend. It can be as little as 5% of your electricity costs. And most good energy audits more than pay for themselves by identifying options to reduce costs and energy usage.
There are a few things to keep in mind when employing an energy consultant.
- It’s important your consultant provides independent advice (i.e. isn’t just trying to sell you their LED lights).
- It’s also important that the audit is conducted to the Australian Standard, that way you know you are getting a comprehensive report conducted with the detail and quality required by the standard. Some companies offer ‘energy assessments’ however if they are not energy audits conducted to the standard than they may be inferior reports and leave you with more questions than answers.
- It is also very important that your energy consultant is qualified and experienced. Don’t settle for a backpacker with a clipboard checklist inspecting your site. Make sure you get someone who knows their stuff… and who knows apartment buildings.
Lastly, any program to reduce energy usage and costs requires ongoing management.
More often then not most apartment owners don’t realise just how much energy it takes to power common equipment, and just how much it is costing. Energy bills are sent directly to strata managers who pay the bills, the cost of which is passed onto to the owners corporation. Very rarely do strata managers report on energy usage, costs and trends.
Most sites only become aware of energy usage when costs suddenly increase, be it due to an increase in rates, or an increase in consumption. Don’t let your site fall into this trap. Be proactive, ask your strata manager to record your energy data, or ask for the bills and do it yourself. Ongoing monitoring of energy usage and costs is vital to achieve and maintain long-term savings.
- Case Study: National Energy Efficiency Award Winning Project
- Energy Efficiency and Strata: The Hidden Costs of ‘Upgrading’ Lighting Systems
Energy Smart Strata is an experienced energy consultancy specialising in apartment buildings. They provide energy audits and energy monitoring services.
Director – Energy Smart Strata