Archive for the ‘Energy efficiency’ Category

Smart meters –> energy price rises

Recently, in our street in suburban Melbourne, we have had “smart” meters installed. The program of smart meter installation has been legislated by the Victorian Government – you don’t have a choice about whether you get one or not; it will come to you. Last week I received a letter from my retailer, Origin, flagging “Time-of-Use” (ToU) energy prices. For the vast majority of us, this will result in major increases in bills.

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….and another thing….

What gives with the Victorian Government and the environment? Don’t Liberals have to pay energy bills?

On Monday last, there was a story in the Age of how, in order to try to “streamline” processes, they were considering removing the 6-star rating on newly built homes. Ostensibly to try to remove “red tape”, this proposal drew heavily on a Master Builders Association report from July 2010, which argued that “forcing” people to build houses with higher star ratings may cost more in building resources than it delivers in energy savings. Now the members of the MBA may be struggling with change, I don’t know, but surely it pays to find out the facts about the advantages or otherwise of building to a high standard.

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Are you a fan of smarter energy use?

Now that summer is well and truly upon us it is time to talk about how to stay cool without blowing the energy budget.

Keeping the heat out in the first place is smarter than trying to cool your living spaces after the fact:

  1. Make sure your home is as draughtproof as you can make it – this will help keep you warmer in winter as well!
  2. On hot days keep the curtains closed – lighting a space takes less energy than cooling especially if you are using leading edge LED lights – if you have external blinds or awnings, use them
  3. Set your ceiling fan to summer mode and use it in preference to air conditioning – you’ll be surprised by how much difference it makes

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…and, finally, homeward bound. The end…or maybe not??

I was again introduced by the mayor, at my Kingston talk, and the audience was well engaged. My host, John, and I headed home afterwards and the next morning I left bound for my next stop 4km from Oyster Cove and my talk at the Kettering Community Hall.

The directions given by Mark [the Spark] were explicit and accurate and I arrived at their place just after noon. Mark and Narelle live a low impact life in the hills west of the highway. I was to be in the cottage they have and the afternoon was spent assisting Mark and a friend Dan replace some rotten stumps under the workshop – grunt work but satisfying nonetheless. The talk went well to a great audience and I returned home with Mark and went straight to bed. The next day was a ‘biggy’ from there to Oatlands – a distance of some 120kms!

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Coal fired power & base-load

Currently, most of our power generation in Australia comes from coal.

One of the problems with coal (and why off-peak power is cheaper than peak power) is that they require a long period of time to heat up to operating temperature and so they cannot be started and stopped quickly.

From the Climate Spectator (Giles Parkinson) comes: “The biggest challenge is how to manage the growth in peak demand, which is growing at a phenomenally faster rate than baseload power. It will come as something of a shock to most consumers that their soaring power bills are not the fault of green energy subsidies, but mostly because of the neighbour’s newly installed air conditioning unit. Or their own.”

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3 Things you might not know:

1.       Australians create more GHG per capita than anyone else in the developed world

2.       Burning coal releases mercury, selenium and arsenic as well as uranium, thorium and other heavy metals – if a health impact study were done today, it would probably not be allowed.

(If your reason for avoiding Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) is that of the mercury contained therein, then use CFLs as the extra coal burnt to provide the energy to light standard globes releases more mercury than the CFL bulbs contain.)

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Handy hints #3

It’s been a while since I posted any hints on energy efficiency, so here goes:

Lighting –

  • Use compact fluorescent lighting where possible right now – yes, I know CFLs have mercury but the mercury produced by burning coal to produce the extra energy to light incandescents outweighs this considerably; …and, yes, you CAN get CFLs that can be dimmed – you just have to look for them;
  • if the colour of CFLs puts you off, look for CFLs with a ‘colour temperature’ between 2500K-3200K or specified as ‘warm white’ – these approximate the colour of incandescents;
  • replace halogen downlights with LED replacements – these are becoming available now and, by doing the changeover, you can use a downmitt to restore a semblance of insulation to your ceiling where your downlights are;
  • use daylight wherever possible – after all, it’s free; 🙂
  • ….and, of course, if no-one is in a room, there is absolutely no need to have the light on, so TURN IT OFF!
  • Handy hints to cut energy use

    In Winter, keep your thermostat at or below 18 degrees C

    In Summer, keep your thermostat at or above 26 degrees C

    The temperature range between 18 and 26 degrees C can be considered ‘comfortable’ and you should need no heating or cooling.

    For every degree C above 18 in Winter and degree C below 26 in Summer, it will cost you an extra 10% on your heating/cooling costs.

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