TGKWC – Heating ,Cooling and Water Heating.

It was nice to see a few people sharing their progress so far during the challenge.  I am certainly no saint when it comes to using electricity, however it is due to a few circumstances beyond my control.

Today I discovered that my solar hot water system is broken.  Well the little pump that circulates the water up to the flat panel collector is anyway.  It was 34 C today, and I expected the hot water to be at least 70 C, but when I washed my hands before dinner, it was only the normal luke warm temperature.  I went out and investigated, and discovered that the return pipe was cold, whereby it should have been boiling hot.  However the little 7 watt pump was boiling hot, and drawing 75 watts.  I believe it is fused/stuffed, so as I believe it still under warranty, I will give the manufacturer a call tomorrow to get it fixed.  I estimated that this broken pump has been drawing about 1.8 – 2.0 kWh a day, which could account for the unusually high daily energy usage that we have been experiencing.  I am glad I noticed it, and funily enough I dreamed last night that I needed to check it today!  Quite a coincidence.

Also, and I have probably shared this before during my Downshift post, but due to Kim having Multiple Sclerosis, it is essential that she keeps cool at all times.  Otherwise I come home to a wonderful wife who is totally fatigued at the end of the day because she is trying to soldier on.

So we have ceiling fans on the low setting most of the time in Spring, Summer and some of Autumn, with a small air-conditioner on every few hours on days over 30 degrees C.  We also have to keep the swimming pool well maintained so that she can have a dip when she is totally exhausted.  You should see the new lease of life she has just after a 1 hour swim in the cool, cool pool.  It is amazing!

Therefore I make no apologies for our mid-teen daily kWh usage, which is one of the many reasons I had Solar PV installed (besides the obvious environmental positives) to limit grid utilisation.  However, with that said, I have always tried to be as energy efficient with heating and cooling as possible.  For those still participating in the challenge, here are today’s tips focusing on this subject.

Did you know that over 39% of the average Australian home’s energy usage is for Heating (90%) and Cooling (10%) and 27% of the homes energy usage is for heating water (electric or gas)?


  • Keep curtains and windows closed during the day to block out the heat, then open them at night to let in cooler air.
  • Fit ceiling fans instead of air conditioners.  They use only about one twentieth of the electricity of an air-con.  Even a pedestal fan more energy efficient. 
  • Don’t leave your air conditioner on the highest setting (coolest). The recommended room temperature for summer is 24°C – 27°C. Every 1°C cooler will increase your energy costs by around 10 to 15%.
  • Cool occupied rooms and seal off those rooms not in use if you can.
  • Turn off your air conditioner for 15 minutes each hour. Or cool your house in the morning and turn the air conditioner off for an hour or so in the afternoon.


  • Install north facing windows (South facing in the northern hemisphere) to catch the winter sun and reduce the amount of energy needed to heat your home.  If you can afford double glazing, then it is well worth the investment.  
  • Make sure that you have as little shading as you can from trees over these windows.  Deciduous trees let the light in during winter and shade during summer months.
  • Insulate you homes ceiling to at least R2 rating, and if possible any walls you can get to.  Good insulation stops heat loss and ingress.  The higher the R rating the better the insulation properties.
  • Choose the right size appliance for the area you want to heat. Overheating wastes energy, whilst a unit that is too small will struggle (even if running on maximum setting).  
  • Keep doors to cold rooms, like kitchens, bathrooms and laundries, closed and use heavy curtains on windows. These can prevent up to 75% of total heat loss from a home.
  • Stop draughts by sealing unused chimneys with chimney dampers, sealing gaps around doors, and switching off range hoods and exhaust fans.  The old door snake/sausage works wonders for drafts under doors.

I thought I would add in hot water heating (due to my own hot water dilemmas) into these tips as it is a form of heating.

Hot water

  • Installing a solar-boosted hot water unit can save you up to 90% of your hot water costs on a sunny day.
  • Switch off your electric (or gas and solar) hot water unit if you’re going away for a week or more.
  • Set the temperature of your hot water between 60°C and 65°C.
  • Or, if you have small children, set your bathroom hot water temperature to 50°C – 55°C to decrease the risk of scalding.
  • Installing a AAA-rated water efficient shower rose can result in significant savings on both your energy and water bills.  
  • Take shorter showers.  Everyone in our family has a 3-4 minute shower with no issues.  You will save energy and water as well.
  • Fix that drip! A hot water tap dripping at the rate of 1 drip per second can waste up to $25 worth of hot water in a year.
  • Make sure the pipes from your hot water service are insulated to prevent heat loss.

I hope those tips help.  The are from just about every state and federal government energy efficiency site I could find.  More tips can be found at; and  Both are great sources of information.

Until next time, keep on saving those Kilowatt Hours!

TGKWC – Weekly Confession

Confession time everyone!

The Challenge is now at the one week mark.  Everyone should have been taking daily readings, and recording them either manually or in the spreadsheet.

So now is the time to share your initial baseline and weekly average with everyone via a comment.

What I would like everyone to do is add up each figure in the “Total kWh used in home” column, and then divide the sum by 7.  This will give you a daily average over the week.  Hopefully if all is going well then it should be lower than the baseline reading you had on day 1.

If it is not, then don’t worry too much.  We still have 3 more weeks of the challenge to go, and can work on other ways to reduce our electricity consumption as we go along.

Here is my daily average for the week.  It was 15.9 kWh with a starting baseline of 16.6 kWh.  That is a 5.4% reduction in consumption!  Click to enlarge any image.

Even though we have been working hard at watching our consumption, we didn’t realise how much electricity that our oven used.  We do now, and are only going to use it for special baking days when the sun is shining to minimise grid consumption, and bake multiple things or use the natural gas or the outdoor cob oven.  I am also investigating Solar Ovens, so if anyone knows of a good one, or has instructions on how to build one, please share via a comment.

I will be a little more diligent with tips this week, and I appologise for last week, however I was snowed under getting my Diploma completed.  In fact, I used some of the information that I had written in this challenge as part of my behavioural change submission, which helped me pass!

Until next post, keep on saving and looking for opportunities to reduce your kilowatt hours!

Diploma of Carbon Management

Just a quick break from The Great Kilowatt Challenge to let you all know that I have finally finished and passed my Diploma of Carbon Management!  I am over the moon, and it was challenging and enjoyable.

The course had the following units of study:

Apply principles of energy and resource efficiency to greenhouse gas Management

Participants learn to apply the principles of energy and resource efficiency to determine options for the mangement of greenhouse gas emissions. Participants research scientific, social and enviromental issues, and apply findings relevant to energy and resource utilisation.

Develop and implement a program to support behaviour change for a sustainability initiative

This unit describes the skills and knowledge required to plan for, and implement, a sustainability practices initiative addressing behaviour change for an individual, organisational and/or community context. This unit describes the skills and knowledge required to design, lead and facilitate behaviour change.

Develop carbon inventory for the workplace

This unit describes the outcomes required to identify and categorise the carbon emissions of an organisation, determine the correct methods for estimating those emissions and produce a carbon inventory for that organisation.

Develop a carbon report for the workplace

This unit applies to the business environment of any organisation, including commercial operations, community organisations such as not-for-profit non-government organisations and government agencies that wish to provide a report on that organisation’s carbon emissions and their response to it.

Create and implement a professional development program to support greenhouse gas management

This unit describes the skills and knowledge required to design, implement and review a professional development program to inform and engage individuals and organisations to support greenhouse gas management.

Create a greenhouse gas management plan

The purpose of this unit is to design and create a greenhouse gas management plan. Participants research current practice in greenhouse gas management and approaches for organisational change.

Implement a greenhouse gas management plan

Upon successful completion of this unit , participants will be able to implement an emissions management plan; document the results; promulgate them to a range of stakeholders, and apply continuous improvement strategies to the plan.

If anyone is interested, then have a look at the course details at Swinburne University.  I believe there will be an on-line version next year.

I met so many great people from all walks of life, who had a common interest.  They all wanted to make a difference to the society they live in.

Those who follow the blog closely would have noticed week long absences occasionally.  Those were study weeks, where I just had to concentrate and knuckle down.

Anyway, I am glad that I stuck with it throughout the year and managed to get to the other side!  Time to kick back a little and get back into the garden!

Not bad for a 47 year old bloke.  Who says that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?