property energy audits

In the July 2015 Property Times Magazine,  Enda Colfer (Anthesis TEP Managing Director) gave an insight on the different approaches to saving energy and money in the home. Full article can be found here: http://cdn.propertyonline.ae/property-times/07-2015/index.html#/18 

Whether you’re a homeowner, buy-to-let purchaser or a tenant, there are many ways to reduce your power and water bills, experts say.There are many innovative means of reducing water and energy use, says Enda Colfer, Anthesis Consulting. “Use sensors at home to turn off lights when no one is in the room. Raise the temperature controls in your apartment to 240 C. These measures will save dirhams.” When buying or renting a property, understanding maintenance costs is vital, says Pablo Izquierdo, WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff. “The more sustainable the operation of the building, the lower the running costs.”

EFFICIENT WATER USE

According to Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), on an average, Dubai residents use 500 litres of water per day, 200 more than the international average. But many experts foresee ways of saving water – and money. In apartments, saving water largely depends on the flow rates of taps and showerheads, says Simon Gowland, Building Physics Modelling Group. “Low-volume taps and showerheads can save 50% on water usage,” he says. Irrigating gardens require lots of water, especially if the lawns are large, he added. “So choose an apartment or a villa with a small area of lawn and landscaping. Also, consider xeriscaping – the use of droughttolerant plants and gardening techniques that reduce water demand.” Rob Carr, WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff, agrees. “Using drought-tolerant species and swapping lawns for dry landscaped areas or fake grass will have a massive effect on the water consumed.”

ENERGY SAVINGS

When inspecting a property, Pablo recommended checking for dualflush toilets – those with two buttons for low and high water discharge. “Taps and showers should have aerators: a small add-on that allows air to mix with the water, reducing the total amount of water used.” It’s vital to get an expert to do a property energy audit to identify potential savings Pablo says. Checking windows is vital, he adds. “Ensure they are double-glazed. Look also for poor construction details such as cracks that allow hot air to infiltrate the house.” Many energy saving measures cost nothing, he says. “Setting the room temperature between 24 C and 26 C has no cost but can reduce the running costs of a house. Also, switch off laptops, screens and other appliances as they still use energy while on standby.” Other measures include replacing light fittings with efficient fluorescent lamps or LED, which can reduce costs by up to 90% compared to traditional bulbs. If you’re thinking of buying a second-hand villa or apartment, ask for a copy of a recent DEWA bill so you can check the costs, Simon recommends. District cooling can be expensive, he warns. “This is especially the case in developments where each apartment cannot be metered separately and the cooling charge for common areas, lobbies and swimming pools are recharged to tenants based on an apartment’s area or volume. Apartment towers in Dubai, however, often have their own chiller plant in which the tenant either gets the cooling free or at a reduced cost.” Simon says apartment buildings use less energy for cooling compared to villas because units have lower external heat gains, being connected to each other. “Villas also have higher air infiltration rates from the outside and may also have swimming pools, which use a lot of energy.” Installing ceiling fans in living areas was the biggest energy saver, he reckons. “Ceiling fans allow occupants to switch off their air-conditioning (AC) whenever the indoor temperature is below 29 0 C, rather than the standard 23 0 C.” As units have low external heat gains, their rooms can do without AC for 10-11 months of the year, he says. “Owners/tenants should consider only switching on AC cooling for the room they are in.” Residents should also have their AC cleaned every 12 months to ensure the system is not clogged, which increases energy use. Simon says ceiling fans could save up to 45% on cooling energy costs – in living areas but not bedrooms. Cleaning AC filters regularly could save 25% on cooling energy while energy efficient lighting and appliances could save up to 30%.

ADDING VALUE

Many water and energy saving measures will ultimately add value to properties, Enda, of Anthesis, predicts. “As awareness about protecting the environment and the impacts of climate change improves, and as the costs of energy and water in Dubai go up, then the value of properties that are energy- and water-efficient will also increase. “In the Middle East we are still used to relatively cheap power and water; however, this is likely to change as government subsidies are reduced.”