Sustainable strata living: Cutting your building's costs

Households across the country are jumping on the apartment-living bandwagon. It takes just one drive through the country's largest cities to see that multi-unit developments are flourishing. In fact, as a convenient, compact and low-maintenance way to live, it's little wonder that there are now over 3 million Australians across the country who live, own or work in an apartment building, according to the Victorian state government. 

In particular, if you're an owner in a strata-titled building, you're probably on the look out for effective ways to cut down on costs - especially as electricity and gas supplier bills can account for some of the biggest expenses you pay in levies. Not only that, but with news of climate change and global warming permeating the media, you might also be interested in ways that can reduce the property's environmental impact. Here are a couple of tips to help you do just that. 

Smart water use

Making energy-efficient and sustainable upgrades doesn't need to cost a small fortune. There are any number of low-cost measures that can be implemented easily and without the need for a long-winded approval process.

Insulating pipes can cut down on heat loss by up to 70 per cent.

Water saving devices are just one of these. According to Smartblocks - a national initiative to help owners and apartment owners improve energy-efficiency - domestic hot water can account for more than 50 per cent of energy used by common property in an apartment block with a central water heating system. 

From the pool to sprinkler systems, as well as individual bathrooms, many properties can benefit from water-saving devices. Low-flow showerheads and taps are money-friendly options to reduce water use and energy wastage in each lot, while insulating pipes can cut down on heat loss by up to 70 per cent, according to Smartblocks.

In the same vein, if the building has a communal pool, think about installing a pool blanket. In fact, aside from regular maintenance, this can be one of the best investments for your pool area. A tightly-fitted pool cover can cut back on heat loss and harness the warmth of the sun, as well as reduce evaporation - all of which can improve the running costs of the building. 

Timed and motion-sensed lighting

It's no secret that lighting can come with one of the largest price tags in the home, particularly with electricity prices on the rise - but this is especially the case in an apartment block. Many spaces are constantly lit, which doesn't only create a whopping electricity bill, but it could also lead to increased maintenance costs, as you often need to call on a repairman to replace blown or faulty bulbs.

With this in mind, discuss what energy-efficient improvements can be made with other residents. The owners' committee or strata manager can install energy-efficient bulbs through the common areas, while motion sensors and timers can be a useful and inexpensive investment in rarely-used spaces, such as carparks and stairwells. As well, removing unnecessary lights throughout the building is another easy way to reduce the cost burden. Just be sure to leave enough fittings to meet minimum lighting standards!

Installing motion sensor lights could reduce electricity wastage. Installing motion sensor lights could reduce electricity wastage.

Posted by Jeremy Elliott