Most of the energy we use in Australia comes from electricity, wood and natural gas. Electricity represents 50% of energy used in Australian households. This is large component of the household budget, and for the sake of cost alone, people are focusing more on energy efficiency.
Unfortunately electricity also contributes to 85% of greenhouse gas emissions, because electricity is still mainly produced by using fossil fuels – so the more energy efficient we become, the less emissions we’ll generate.
In 2009, some Australian state governments embarked on energy efficiency initiatives delivered via electricity retailers to help householders reduce their energy consumption, and therefore lower greenhouse gas emissions.
There’s also good financial reasons for energy efficiency in the home as the more energy efficient appliances you have, the more money you are saving on energy bills.
Energy Consumption in Australia
Most electricity comes from the national grid and is generally produced by coal-powered plants – which produce the largest amount of greenhouse gases. These plants contribute significantly to global warming.
Australia’s energy sector was the largest and fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Even with all the solar and other renewable energy we use, Australians are one of the highest per-capita greenhouse gas polluters in the world, and it is energy used in Australian households that is responsible for the biggest amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
Approximately one fifth of Australia’s total emissions come from homes, the equivalent of 15 tonnes per household per year. This includes everyday transportation and household waste which goes to landfill. (Source of statistics: Australian Greenhouse Office)
Australians can reduce their electricity related emissions by implementing smart home solutions, energy efficiency strategies and using renewable energy sources – and they are all closely related.
Choosing the most appropriate form of renewable energy for your home, such as solar panels and solar hot water will not only reduce your energy bills, but simultaneously help save the environment.
Appliances have energy ratings (see below for more about that). You may also want to discover how homes have energy ratings, too. See our home energy ratings page.
Save on solar power systems with energy efficiency
Reducing energy consumption is one of the easiest ways to substantially reduce the cost of a solar power system, or to increase the overall percentage of electricity that solar power provides in your home. Here’s an example:
60 watt incandescent light globe x 8 hours a day = 480 watt hours
15 watt CFL bulb x 8 hours a day = 120 watt hours
700 lumen LED bulb x 8 hours a day = 64 – 96 watt hours
Just by replacing a single incandescent light globe with a similar intensity energy efficient CFL; you’ve reduced the amount of electricity you need a solar power system to to generate by 360 watt hours a day – the equivalent of a 80 watt solar panel – without sacrificing comfort or convenience. The energy savings are even more if you choose LED.
The same approach can be used with many energy applications around the home and can substantially reduce the number of solar panels you’ll need – potentially saving you thousands of dollars by giving just a little thought to low-cost energy efficiency based strategies.
Even if you’re only partially powering your home with solar panels, greater energy efficiency means that solar power will contribute a greater amount of your electricity needs, reducing your power bills even further and maximising returns from feed in tariffs.
Being energy efficient is the best way to reduce your energy bills while lowering environmental impacts.
In Australia, it is now mandatory that certain electrical appliances such as fridges, dryers, and washing machines come with an energy rating. The energy ratings work on a star system. The more stars, the more energy/gas/water efficient the appliance is. If you are comparing two appliances with the same stars, look at the numbers on the energy rating label. The lower the numbers, the more energy/money you save.
It is estimated that electrical appliances represent approximately 40% of a household’s energy use. The energy use in an average Australian household produces 12 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, so remember to switch off appliances at the power socket to save up to 10% on energy bills. Pick up some more energy saving tips.
Further information on specific appliance types:
- Washers and Dryers
- Hot Water Systems
- Fridges and Freezers
- Air conditioning
The Victorian State government has a range of programs that help with energy efficiency