According to the Zero Footprint Week site, electricity accounts for 50% of energy consumed by Australian households and for 85% of greenhouse emissions. The main reason for this fact is that the majority of electricity in Australia is generated by burning Coal which released massive amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
So I will also add in my experiences on reducing electricity consumption during my sustainable journey so far. So here are the three categories for today, plus a few tips of my own.
Switching off appliances and power points can save 10% on energy bills. I might be preaching to the converted, but standby power adds up over a year. So what can you do about it? If you can group appliances together then put them all on a powerboard and you then only have one switch to worry about. Don't let the fact of not being able to reach the power point deter you, there are powerboards with switches on them that make it easier to reach. I have used this system for each PC (we have 3 PC's and 1 laptop), and the entertainment system in the lounge. I found that the week I implemented this, we saved 2 Kilowatt hours a day and have done so now for 18 months! At 15.99 cents per kWh that is a savings of $116.80 and 876 kg of CO2e per year. All for turning stuff off at the wall! It is also a good idea to read your meter daily for a week if you can. This way you can determine if the small changes you make over a week are making a difference. Have a look at your previous electricity bill, because most of them have your daily average usage listed. You can use this figure as your baseline and try and improve each month. If you would like more information about the other things I did have a look at the post titled "Eco House Challenge Electricity 1" and "Eco House Challenge Electricity 2". Since I wrote that post, we have had two adult kids move out of home, and our daily average electricity usage over the last 32 weeks was 12.2 kWh. This total includes grid and solar. The grid daily average was 3.2 kWh! I love the Sun.
Choose energy efficient appliances can save another 10% on energy bills. Our big electricity sucking machines are the Fridge/Freezer, Clothes Dryer, Swimming Pool Pump, Entertainment System, and Gas Stove. Since I began my journey in sustainable living, we have replaced the a Fridge/Freezer, a Chest Freezer and combined them into one twin door energy efficient model. The old fridge died, so we did our research for an energy efficient model, and found that the one we purchased used 60% less energy per year than the old Fridge/Freezer and Chest freezer combined. It was a great feeling to see the results. I only ever replace an appliance when it breaks for good, because I take the embedded energy into account for the new item. Embedded energy is the energy that it takes to make the new appliance which should be taken into account if you can get the information that is. To find the most energy efficient appliance for you have a look at the Commonwealth Government Energy Rating site. It is full of great information that I used when looking for my fridge. For the appliances that you can't or don't want to replace just yet, try and use them less. We rarely use the clothes dryer anymore and prefer to hang clothes either on an airer or under cover if it is raining. I got rid of a bar fridge that I rarely used, and turned the pool pump down from 8 hours a day to 3.5 hours a day in Summer. The pool still stays clean and chlorinated, so I don't why people insist on leaving these energy guzzling pumps for many hours during the day. Once again, try and take meter readings while you make changes to your consumption to check the results.
Switching to GreenPower reduces your carbon footprint by up to 70%. This was one of the first things that we did. By visiting www.greenpower.gov.au we found that our current provider Origin Energy provided accredited GreenPower to our area. We first signed up for 20% Wind, and then when our Solar PV system was installed, we changed to 100% wind for the excess that we drew from the grid. Origin also threw in GreenGas, for free, which is a scheme where they invest in projects to sequester CO2e like new renewable energy, planting trees, research and development etc.
I am proud to say that our home is carbon neutral for all of our imported energy needs.
Tomorrows post will be about Transport, and how you can reduce your carbon footprint in this area.
Keep an eye on the official Zero Footprint Week web site for more tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint during the week.