Strata residents living in the Eclipse building in Bondi Junction take their responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint extremely seriously.
And the benefits are there for all to see.
The residents were invited to be part of an innovative new Waverley Council initiative that has been set up to assist selected strata buildings the chance to save thousands of dollars in energy and water costs. The aim of the project is to assist selected strata schemes to reduce operating costs and common area energy usage and cut greenhouse gas emissions while also reducing water usage and improving waste management.
Called Building Futures, the council works with participants by providing access to free energy assessments, costed upgrade recommendations, Waterfix program by Sydney Water for high water users, implementation support, training and networking opportunities and recognition and promotion.
In addition, to help participating buildings work to a goal of reducing common property energy by 20%, the council is also offering matched funding for upgrades.
But it’s not just at a macro level that Australians are working hard to reduce their energy costs.
It took Matt Porter’s home heating costs to top $1,000 a quarter before the busy family man decided to take action.
Only too aware the impact his power consumption was having on his energy bills, Matt had already done what he could to lower costs, including delaying the start of his washing machine until the wee hours, restricting the number of times the children could have a bath each week and ensuring lights in unused rooms were switched off.
It wasn’t until Matt spent $9,000 on installing a 6.5kw solar panel system that he finally saw his quarterly energy bills reduced to a more palatable sum of around $200.
But while any change than results in less reliance on the national grid is a good thing, when you live in strata decisions such as whether or not to install solar are not always so clear cut.
The good news is the Department of the Environment and Energy says it’s not always necessary to undertake such costly measures to see your power bill reduced. It says there are a range of factors that determine the amount of energy used in individual households, with some of these reflecting changing personal preferences – such as the increasing use of personal devices – and others relating to the climate and the type of housing where you live.
It says while the exact savings will vary from home to home, getting rid of the second fridge could save the average family around $172 a year and switching off the game console after use around $193 a year. Using the clothesline once a week instead of the dryer should result in savings of around $79 per annum while installing a water-efficient four-star showerhead could save as much as $315 a year.
It’s difficult to make decisions or prioritise actions that might reduce your costs if you don’t know where and when your household is using energy, the department says.
The department recommends reading all the fine print on your bill to help you assess your energy use patterns and enable comparisons to previous years to get a picture of how your energy consumption varies from season to season.
“If you know your bills are always high in winter you could look at a mix of options to reduce your energy costs. This might include using thicker bedding so you don’t need to leave heating on overnight, heating only the rooms you are using, stopping up draughts and cracks with simple window and door tape, and investing in a more energy-efficient heater if your current model is using too much energy.”
It also pays to educate yourself about the major sources of household energy consumption and where your household fits in, it says.
The major sources of energy use around the typical Australian home are spread across heating water, heating and cooling and refrigeration and other electrical appliances. Standby power, lighting and cooking make up most of the rest of your household energy bill, the department says.
Growing sources of energy use around the home include air conditioning, entertainment systems and personal devices.
To make the biggest impact on your energy use and costs you should firstly target the biggest sources of energy use around your home, such as hot water and heating and cooling.
“Identify ways you can carry out household functions more efficiently. This includes correct installation and placement of equipment, and keeping it well maintained.”