Featured artist: Shannon Crees

Energy

Featured artist: Shannon Crees
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Environment

Energy

Solar hot water heaterMuch of the electricity generated for use by households comes from power stations fuelled by coal – a process which produces significant amounts of greenhouse gases. So by reducing their energy consumption, households can reduce their contribution to climate change.

This page provides information to help residents understand their energy consumption, as well as provide resources with practical advice and tips on ways for residents to reduce their energy use.

Measuring your energy use

In order to know how you can reduce your energy use, it’s important to understand where you are using energy in your house and therefore where savings can be made.

PowerMates (devices that measure the energy use of appliances) can be borrowed from the Green Living Centre.

Avoidance is the key

While there are plenty of very energy efficient appliances and gadgets available to help you reduce your energy use, the best, and often cheapest, option is to make some simple changes to your lifestyle – for example, switching off lights when rooms are unoccupied, switching off appliances at the wall and dressing appropriately for the weather instead of cranking up the heater.

For tips on ways to reduce your electricity consumption, check out these websites:

Heating and cooling

While heating and cooling are the largest contributors to household energy use, most homes use gas for heating (not electricity from coal-fired power plants), so the contribution of heating to greenhouse gas emissions is lower than its share would suggest.

The most effective ways to reduce energy use for heating and cooling are to install proper insulation, blocking any draughts and, for new builds, ensuring passive solar design. Mechanical heating and cooling should be used as a last resort, but if required there are now very efficient heating and cooling technologies available.

  • Your Home: Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes provides detailed information on practical ways to efficiently and effectively heat and cool new, and existing, buildings.

Appliances

Appliances account for almost half (45%) of the average household’s greenhouse gas emissions even though they make up 30% of energy use. The first thing to consider when thinking about appliances is - do you really need it (e.g. a clothes dryer vs using a washing line or drying rack)? If you do need the appliance, then carefully research and select an energy efficient model that is sized for your needs.

Hot water

Heating water for bathroom, kitchen and laundry use is one of the largest contributors to an average household’s greenhouse gas emissions. However, it is possible to have hot water without contributing significantly to climate change – for example by switching to solar hot water, heat pumps, or hot water made from less carbon-intensive energy sources such as LPG and natural gas.

  • The Your Home: Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes provides detailed information on different types of hot water systems.
  • The Alternative Technology Association’s Efficient Hot Water e-booklet is an informative guide on heat pumps and solar hot water systems.

Gadgets

There are a range of energy conservation appliances on the market that can help residents manage their energy consumption.

Energy saving timerTimer – this gadget will remember to turn off appliances when you don’t.

Eco switchEco-switch – this gadget allows you to turn off several appliances at once, reducing the amount of standby power used (which can make up 10% of household energy use).

To find out more or to purchase an eco switch, visit the Green Living Centre.

Generating your own electricity

Sydney receives plenty of sunshine, so it makes sense to capture some of the sun’s energy to produce your own electricity. While the cost of grid power continues to rise, the cost of solar panels has been declining over the past few years, making solar panels a good economic, as well as environmental, choice.

Greenpower

If you are unable to make your own “low carbon” hot water or electricity – maybe you’re renting or your house isn’t well orientated – you might want to consider purchasing GreenPower.

GreenPower is a Federal Government accreditation program that enables you to purchase renewable energy through your energy provider.

  • GreenPower Your Home explains what GreenPower is and lists some questions you might want to ask your energy supplier before purchasing GreenPower.
  • Energy Made Easy is a Federal Government website to assist households compare electricity offers, including Greenpower, between different suppliers.