Apartment Living: Energy Saving Tips

Everyone wants to be energy efficient – to save the planet and the wallet. Do you know how to make real savings when you live in an apartment? 

These tips are especially for apartment dwellers, to do just that.

$ Hot Water and Heating /Cooling together make up most of your home energy bill? Together these costs make up 59% of your energy usage.

$ Hot Water systems in apartments are commonly individual, small electric units with a continuous electricity supply – and are very expensive.

Start Saving: Just 1 minute less in the shower saves enough electricity to run a standard TV for 4 hours! 2 minutes less can save a family of 4 up to $100/year. Why not try a shower timer to see just how much you can save? Short showers save power!

Start Saving: Look into a low flow showerhead – they cost less than $20 and can also save up to $100 / year on both energy and water bills.

Start Saving: Make your apartment thermally efficient. Shared walls, floors and ceilings are naturally protective. Insulate top level ceilings, install external shades or window tinting to keep out the heat in summer. Close curtains and blinds or look into double-glazing to keep your house warm in winter, and stop those draughts by sealing gaps.

$ Electric Heaters like bar radiators, fan heaters and oil column heaters may be cheap to buy but they are expensive to run. Only use them for contained small spaces or for personal heating.

Start Saving: Install gas heating – it delivers more heat and costs less with much lower greenhouse emissions. Reverse cycle air conditioning is an efficient heating option for larger spaces, but Fans are much cheaper than A/C in the summer.

Start Saving: Set your thermostats to 23 – 26 deg in summer, and 18 – 21 deg in winter. Only cool or heat the area being occupied, use timers to help turn it off.

$ Lighting accounts for 9% of your energy bill, even more if incandescent bulbs are in use. This old technology wastes more than 90% of their energy as heat.

Start Saving: CFLs use 80% less energy, and last 10 times longer. A less efficient option is mains voltage IRC halogen bulbs that use 30% less energy and last twice as long.

$ Downlights use around 60 watts of power, but usually only provide a spotlight, rather than general room lighting. To compensate usually a large number of downlights are installed in each room.

Start Saving: You have three options –

a)     install IRC halogen bulbs within the existing fitting for a 30% energy saving, lasting twice as long;

b)     for an enormous 80% saving install fluorescent downlights that last 10 times longer. You’ll need to replace the whole lamp though, and they are usually not dimmable.

c)      LED downlights promise energy savings over 80%, and a 30,000+ hour life, and they are dimmable. However they are expensive, and often don’t provide satisfactory levels of lighting.

$ Standby power can also be up to 10% of household energy use – about $100 / year.

Start Saving: Turn appliances off at the power button or the wall, especially in your home office or with your entertainment system.

$ Fridge / Freezers make up around 7% of your energy bill.

Start Saving: Make sure you run an energy efficient Fridge / Freezer – check the star Energy Rating of your existing fridge, or if you are in the market for a new one. Consider if you really need to run that second drinks fridge or deep freeze in the garage – there’s a fridge buyback scheme in place that might suit you. And make sure your fridge is running efficiently – check the door seals with a $5 note, and ensure there is an 80mm gap at the back and sides for ventilation to the rear coils.

$ Laundry accounts for 3% of your energy bill, however Clothes dryers use about 15 times more energy that a washing machine! A clothes dryer used for 4 loads a week adds $150/year to your energy.

Start Saving: Wash in cold water and save around $50 a year. Front loaders are more energy efficient if you really must wash in warm water. Only use your clothes dryer as a back up in wet weather.

$ Large plasma TVs can use around 4 times the energy of a standard TV – even more than the refrigerator. And the average home now has 2.1 TVs.

Start Saving: Check the star rating of your existing tv, or if you are in the market for a new one. And turn it off at the power when it’s not in use.

*Tips sourced from “Energy Efficient Apartment Living” by Energy Australia