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Case Study: Install motion sensors and timers

Tim Esmonde, The Avenue, Parkville

Tim Esmonde

"At the end of the day, we are the ones living in the building and we are the ones who benefit. Apart from the cost saving, it’s just doing what is right. Why have lights on when you are not using them?”

You can do this project!

From the upper floors of a Parkville apartment block, the view of Melbourne’s western sweep is uninterrupted. Tree-fringed ovals and green parkland begin at the doorstep; beyond this, under a wide sky, the city stretches as far as the eye can see.

Perhaps the view helped the owners of this 7-storey block to see the big picture. In 2012, Tim Esmonde and his neighbours decided to look into ways to make their building more energy efficient.

They audited their energy use and discovered a lift and lighting in hallways and entrance foyers were the only sources of energy use in common areas. They decided to focus on making the lighting more energy efficient as a first step.

Tim worked with his owners committee to replace existing cool fluorescent tube lighting with more efficient LED strip lighting. They installed movement sensors in a number of common areas, particularly in areas between 
the lift and apartment entrances. They also undertook some circuitry upgrades, as required by current electrical compliance regulations.

Tim says, “At the end of the day, we are the ones living in the building and we are the ones who benefit. Apart from the cost saving, it’s just doing what is right. Why have lights on when you are not using them?” 

What did the project cost?

The project cost a total of $6,500 and included sensors, circuitry updates, LED strip lighting and replacing cool fluoros with LEDs in common areas. The owners decided it wasn’t worth changing the fluoro tubes in the garages or replacing a single motion sensor floodlight, as they weren’t used much.

What was the result?

Since the upgrade took place, the building’s common area electricity use has dropped by a huge 42%, saving them $2000 each year. They expect the project to pay for itself – so they can recoup the $6,500 they initially invested – in just over three years. The building’s carbon emissions have also halved.

The building is now looking into other ways to save even more energy and money – like using the Smart Blocks rebate to add solar panels to power common areas. Gazing out of a top floor window, across Melbourne’s sun-lit Western planes, harnessing the power of the sun seems like a fine idea indeed.