Why is Reducing Energy Usage Important?

The benefits of reducing your household or business energy usage are not limited to a smaller bill at the end of the month. Reducing energy is an important and effective step in reducing the total amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Decisions to reduce household energy usage contribute to the global effort to manage and transform energy consumption for a sustainable future.

Both a spike in the cost of energy and global concern regarding a changing climate indicates a need to monitor and manage energy use whether it be at home or in the office. In the ACT, carbon emissions produced from residential electricity and gas contributes significantly to the territory's overall emissions.  Individual actions can make a big difference!

Simple energy usage strategies make it possible to stay warm in winter and cool in summer without costing the earth. You can find some simple strategies for reducing household energy usage below.

 

Reducing My Usage

Living areas

Reduce draughts by closing windows, doors and curtains.

Set central heating / cooling to 25 degrees Celsius, each 1-degree increase of the thermostat saves about 10% on your energy usage!

Switch all appliances off at the wall.

Cover bare floorboards or tiles with carpets or rugs to add comfort but also heat retention.

Open your house up to embrace Canberra’s brilliant winter sunny days by drawing back your curtains and letting in the warm air. Close your curtains during the evening as the chill draws in.

If you are considering upgrading your AC heating/cooling system, first try and install high-performance windows, such as double glazed or spectrally selective coatings. In the long run, this one-time purchase may reduce years of heating costs through efficient insulation. 

Federal rebates 

Benefits of double glazing/alternatives

Private installation ACT 

Window selection guides 

Kitchen and Laundry 

Make sure your fridge has an energy efficient rating. A household fridge is constantly running and producing cold air through the thermostat, making it one of the most costly appliances. The optimal settings for your fridge are 4 to 5 degrees Celsius and for your freezer, -18 to -15 degrees Celsius.

When washing your dishes, aim to use the economy mode and always aim to have a full load before turning on the dishwasher. The same goes for the washing machine. 

Wash your clothes using cold water. It takes energy to heat up water. Washing your clothes in cold water can save around $115 per year! You can increase this saving by choosing the shortest washing cycle and making sure you have a full load of washing before you begin (more on this here). 

Ditch the dryer and air dry your clothes.

Did you know?

If you are a resident in the ACT, you are eligible for a free Energy Saving House call by ActewAGL. A free call-out is possible to ACT residents for the installation of various products to reduce your energy bills, including swapping costly halogen downlight bulbs to LED, saving you a possible 88% on your annual lighting costs. Other products installed without charge include seals for doors and fans that will reduce air leakage and keep your home warm in winter. 

One-third of a household’s heat can escape through draughts that let cold wind into the house. 

A leaking hot water tap dripping 45 times per minute can waste around 2000 litres per month and drive your power bill up substantially. Be sure to make sure you have tightened those sink or shower taps! 

 ActSmart’s energy saving guide  also provides useful information to help you understand your household energy usage.

Resources:

Energy Saving House Calls

Draught Proofing

Water Saving Tips

 

Monitoring Home Energy Usage

ACT households are among the largest consumers of energy on a per capita basis in Australia; we use around 25GJ per person annually, compared with 13GJ per annum in NSW.  58% of our energy use is associated with heating and cooling alone. 

Understanding how to read and understand your bill is the first step to energy saving!

These interactive online tools will help walk you through it:

 

ACT Government’s Renewable Energy Targets

Renewable energy is energy that is obtained from natural resources that can be naturally replenished.  Renewable energy sources in the ACT are centred around wind and solar power and battery storage.

In 2016, the ACT government committed to sourcing its electricity from 100% renewable energy by 2020.

This target is unprecedented in Australia, with other states and territories close behind including South Australia, which has set a target of 50% by 2025, and Victoria who recently announced a target of 40% by 2025. Other players, such as New South Wales and the Northern Territory have failed to produce their own independent target and align with the federal renewable energy target of 20% renewable energy by 2020.

The ability to meet a 100% renewable energy target is achievable with the declining cost of wind and solar power, of which the ACT has played a pivotal role through its reverse auction feed-in tariff mechanism. 

More Information / Resources:

 

Going Solar  

 Household solar power is increasingly popular in Australia thanks to out sunny climate (Australia provides more solar radiation per square km than anywhere else on the planet) and the fact that most Australian dwellings are stand-alone with large rooftops suitable for photovoltaic (PV) systems. The economic returns are also substantial. Solar PV systems are an extremely effective way to reduce electricity bills in an energy market that exhibits some of the highest residential electricity prices in the world.

Find out more on solar and how to choose the perfect panels for your roof at these links:

Solar Citizens

ACTSmart - what is the government doing? 

ACCC - Purchasing a solar system

Rebates

AER - Tarrif and fees explained 

What size of solar power installation should you buy? 

Royalla Solar Farm

Battery storage technology - ACTSmart fact sheet

 

Carbon Footprints

In order to make informed decisions about our energy usage, we must first realise how our lifestyles are contributing to increasing carbon emissions and negative impacts of global climate change. An excellent way to do this is through a carbon footprint calculator. The following websites will assist an individual looking to reduce their carbon footprint, or in other words the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere from their day-to-day living. A carbon calculator will take account of various activities within your day, such as transport, food, waste and energy, to give you an indication of how much carbon, or in some cases, how many planet's are required to support your lifestyle.

By calculating your carbon footprint, you’re taking the first step in your own battle against climate change!

For individuals / households

Short calculators for your basic carbon footprint and ways to save money:

Conservation International - Carbon Calculator

The Nature Conservancy

A more detailed report for a holistic breakdown of a household’s carbon footprint