14/07/2019 at 8:38 pm #38706
Our building of 8 units (in NSW) was built circa 1930s. Many of the units have been renovated to allow space for a washing machine in the kitchen. Some units haven’t and residents put their private washing machines in the shared laundry. And many, while having space internally for a washing machine, don’t have space for a dryer, so we’ve got 5 dryers in the shared laundry. The power points are communal so the electricity to run all of these machines is paid for by strata.
What options are available to change from this shared electricity situation to one of user pays. I know it used to be common to have individual power points allocated to apartments and tenants would use a padlock to prevent others from using their power. Is that still done? Or are there more modern technology solutions? What are they – I don’t know where to begin to find out what options are available.
And if there are no technology options to have actual electricity used charged to individual units, what else can we do to have users pay for the electricity they use for their washers and/or dryers.
Thank you!14/07/2019 at 8:49 pm #38708
The same question is relevant for situations where electric vehicles can’t be charged from outlets wired back to the meters of the individual units. Then, you would have outlets for vehicles out in the carpark wired back to the OC’s meter.
The solution is the same. A simple kWh meter can be put in line with each outlet (or one for the whole laundry). It can be read periodically and the relevant units billed pro-rata for the total cost to the OC, whether the outlet is in the allocated parking space of unit X or it has the washing machine belonging to unit X plugged into it.
There are fancier systems involving RFID cards for EV charging where different vehicles might use the same outlet and I expect the same could apply to washing machines. These systems record consumption to different users according to who tapped on and off.
Another option would be to make a reasonable estimate of the likely consumption of washing machines and dryers used for a certain number of hours a week (or measure the actual consumptions) and resolve to charge a fee to those using the laundry that would recoup that cost.
15/07/2019 at 9:38 am #38713
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Sir Humphrey.
It sounds like in this situation the best solution is one of those suggested by Sir H, and that’s a user-pays system of either separate power supplies or metered electrical connections.
Another way round this would be to clear out all the individually owned washing machines and dryers and replace them with cashless user-pays communal machines (click to see one comercial solution).
This is the problem when what was once a communal facility is gradually taken over by some individuals while being abandoned by others.
There will be resistance to change. Those who are effectively being subsidised by other owners won’t want to lose that benefit. Those who are self-sufficient with their laundry equipment inside their flats won’t want to pay more towards communal facilities.
Possibly the best thing you can do is to circulate a plan to all owners explaining what you want to do and why and what the options (and costs) are, including the added cost to laundry non-users of keeping things as they are.
At the very least, a separate meter for the laundry and agreement for those given access to the equipment that they will share the costs would be fair.
But having half a dozen separate dryers leaching off communal electricity makes no sense. A couple of shared Hills hoists would be a step “back to the future”.17/07/2019 at 10:37 am #38855
The proposed suggestions sound great, but before you jump, have you considered the costs involved in implementing those options (that cost would be borne equally by all units), and the actual usage costs being incurred? If usage costs are $80/month, and implementation costs are $20k, then is it really worth it? Cost to one unit of $10/month or $2500, in either case they are not using the laundry. For those users that do use the laundry, it’s a saving of $10/month, $2500 up-front cost, plus the actual usage charges, whatever that might end up being.
I guess every strata has areas that are never used by some units (pools and gyms are obvious ones, but the ground floor unit might never use the lift, etc), but those facility costs are still shared by all.
PS, I don’t know what realistic figures are, but just a suggestion to work out what you are actually arguing about.17/07/2019 at 10:47 am #38897
I agree with webman that it is worth getting a fair estimate of the actual money involved. If someone has a tame electrician friend, they might wire in a temporary meter to see if you are talking about tens of dollars or thousands of dollars. Or, you can get cheap kWh counters that plug into individual power points so you can see what one run of the washing machine or dryer is using. Then multiply a reasonable guesstimate of numbers of runs over a year. I expect the dryers use considerably more than the washing machines. If nothing else, encourage the use of clothes lines – the most cost-effective, directly-renewably-powered, readily-available appliance there is.17/07/2019 at 10:58 am #38930
If they are private washing machines and dryers then the owners of those appliances can’t put them on common property without the permission of the OC. So strictly speaking the OC could remove them – although based on what Harmony has said it might be difficult to get a resolution for removal.
However, I suggest you use that as a starting point – if those owners want to put their machines on common property they need the permission of the OC, and that should come with conditions, i.e. that the owners pay for the electricity use. Why don’t you speak to an electrician about the options available to work out the electricity usage.
5 dryers in a building of 8 units is a hell of a lot of dryers, what a waste of electricity when you could use a clothesline!17/07/2019 at 11:49 am #38952
Another way to view this is that the main cost to the OC would be running the dryers. If 5 of 8 are using dryers then only three have opted out of using the laundry communal facility. If those three have preferred the convenience of drying in their own unit, then that is their choice at their expense but the communal facility remains available to them, just as it always was, even if they choose to not use it.
Yet another way to view things: If the OC originally provided either washing machines or a place to house and operate one’s personal washing machine, but did not provide electric dryers but did provide sun- and wind-powered dryers (clotheslines), then it could be argued more forcefully that the electric dryers should be either removed or put on five kWh counters since electric dryers were not part of the the OC communal facility.19/08/2019 at 10:24 am #40815
You’re absolutely right, we need to figure out whether the costs make sense. But without knowing what the options are, I didn’t even have info to cost it out (and our strata manager has not been helpful in suggesting solutions). At least now I have a few ideas to explore. Thank you.19/08/2019 at 10:25 am #40817
Thanks Sir Humphrey, I’ll definitely explore the kwh meter, didn’t know there was such a thing.19/08/2019 at 10:25 am #40819
Thanks Jimmy – some good options to think about, exactly what I was looking for!19/08/2019 at 10:26 am #40821
Thanks all for the suggestions of using a clothesline. That’s a whole other problem. One or two residents use the whole line, leave their clothes out for days at time, which precludes others from using it. I think that’s part of the driver for people using their electric dryers instead. But then, I’m baffled – today is warm, sunny, with a good breeze – perfect clothes drying weather. Not an item on the clothes line, but two dryers running! Exasperating!