A Greener Way of Living, at Home and Abroad
Are you an “energy vampire?” If you live in an apartment in the central part of the building you may be sucking energy from neighboring flats. In Hungary people who live in the central apartments are referred to as energy vampires. (In the U.S. this term has a slightly different meaning.)
The European Union (EU) is focused on reducing household energy use as part of the plan to cut Europe’s annual energy consumption by 20% by 2020. One way to accomplish this is to make people pay for the electricity they use to heat their apartment. Living units are now required to be individually metered. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you have not been paying for heat and now you have to pay, you may think more about where your apartment is located in the building. A researcher at the ENHR (European Network of Housing Researchers) conference I recently attended talked about the reactions among Swedish people. For many years heating has been included in rent. Now they will have to pay and the people living in the center of the building will pay less than those living on the outer edges of the building. Is this fair? Would you have chosen the top corner apartment if you knew you had to pay for heat? Perhaps you would choose instead to be an energy vampire and select an apartment in the center of the building. Other countries have developed formulas that take into consideration the location of your apartment in the building thus reducing the “vampire benefits.”
Increasing awareness of energy use is a major step towards reducing energy use. In the United States we focus a lot on selecting energy efficient, or ENERGY STAR products and educating consumers about ways they can reduce energy costs at home and work. Cooperative Extension is a good source of information, ideas and tips on ways to reduce your home energy use.