Owning an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t make energy efficient upgrades to the building. You may not be able to make changes as freely as a house owner as any changes will need to be discussed with other owners in the strata scheme and the owners corporation, you can however, get the ball rolling by:
- Chatting to your neighbours to gauge their interest in environmentally sustainable upgrades.
- Discuss formally at strata meetings or the AGM. If there is interest, you may need to consider discussing it at other times too.
- Understand what’s feasible. Issues such as size, age or heritage status can limit what can be done. The owners’ corporation should be able to give guidance on this.
Solar Panels (Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems)
Solar panels can be environmentally sustainable as they replace traditional ‘on the grid’ electricity that is created from burning fossil fuels. Installing solar can provide your apartment with electricity and can be used to heat hot water systems. Solar panels have an initial outlay cost but over time the cost should be balanced out by a reduction in electricity bills. Solar panels are typically housed on a roof which is normally considered ‘common property’, that is spaces and parts of the apartment building shared with other apartment owners. Be sure to check what is considered common property in your apartment building, your strata plan should provide information on this.
Solar battery storage system
Solar panels and solar batteries go hand in hand. A solar battery stores unused electricity generated from solar panels for use on overcast days and at night. These battery systems can be expensive so if you install one with your solar panels, it could take a few years to see a return on investment. For more information read Solar and PV batteries.
Certified double-glazed windows
Double glazed windows are comprised of two windowpanes with a space in between that acts as insulation. This provides temperature control in summer and winter by keeping your property warm and cool which results in less energy consumption from air conditioning, fans, and heaters. Check your strata plan to see if windows are considered common property and what limitations you may have in installing them or what you need to do to install them.
Lights are essential and replacing your traditional incandescent light bulbs and some halogen light bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can reduce your apartments energy consumption. LEDs also last longer which can have a positive impact on waste as they do not need to be replaced as often.
Electric Vehicle (EV) charging
If any residents own or are considering buying an electric vehicle its worth discussing options with the owner’s corporation to look at options for charging stations. This could be the option of residents being able to install them in their own parking spots or a communal charging station or stations. While there will be upfront costs, as the demand for EVs grows these may become value adding assets to the building in the future.