Energy Use and Savings
Energy efficiency ideas at home and work.
Learn ways to reduce your electricity bills here at www.switchon.vic.gov.au
Find ways to live sustainably here at www.sustainablelivingguide.com.au
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Don’t get burnt by energy bills this summer
Staying cool this summer doesn’t have to be expensive. There are some simple steps that you can take to be Summer Wise. Shading your windows externally, insulating your ceiling and ventilating your home correctly can help you avoid being sun struck by your energy bill. If you are buying a new air conditioner this summer, use energy rating labels to help you choose the most efficient option and set your thermostat to between 24 and 26 degrees. For more ways to beat the heat visit www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/summerwise. Or call the Positive Charge energy helpline on 03 9385 8555 to make an appointment, and they will call you back to discuss your situation (at work or at home) and get some friendly and helpful ideas.
Building A New Home
If you are planning to build or buy a new home, it is best to design and build the house with sustainability at the start. The Your Home is a great reference.
The best way to save money in the long-term is to consider principles of energy efficiency from the beginning, and consider long term operating costs. You can reduce your ongoing energy if you consider: house orientation (to maximise north); building materials and thermal mass; appliances with a high star rating; insulation (roof, walls and underfloor); energy efficient lighting (LED) and window coverings such as heavy curtains with pelmets.
Even your choice of windows can make a big difference to your overall energy efficiency and ongoing electricity bills, and think about the size of your house (smaller houses use less energy for heating and cooling). Also consider that typically 25% of household electricity is from heating water, so consider a solar hotwater system or don't get a system too big for your needs.
Existing homes can be retrofitted to be more energy efficient:
- Switch off appliances at the wall to avoid standby electricity.
- Buy energy efficient whitegoods with a high star rating. This will make a very big difference to the energy consumed over the life of the appliance and will save you money.
- Sign up to buy GreenPower from your electricity retailer.
- Install insulation in your home. It will make your home a lot more comfortable in summer and winter and reduce heating and cooling costs.
- Install a solar hot water heater as water heating typically accounts for 25% of your electricity.
- Install energy efficient lighting (LED and CFL) and avoid downlights which can't have ceiling insulation fitted around them. (Did you consider downlights only highlight the floor anyway).
- Consider switching to Natural Gas if it’s available in your area.
- Use transport thoughtfully and walk where you can.
- Borrow a Power Mate from your local library to conduct your own energy audit. (Power Mates enable residents to measure electricity use and greenhouse emissions, and display the cost of running household appliances over a month, quarter and year).
- Buy locally-grown produce to reduce the amount of energy used in transport, or grow your own fruit and vegies.
- Pool and spa pumps are a significant contributor to CO2 emissions from residential homes, increasing an average home’s energy consumption by up to 30%.
If you are renting there are many options to reduce your energy consumption and carbon emissions. While you might not be able to install solar power without your landlords permission, you can still undertake draft proofing or choose GreenPower on your electricity account to reduce your emissions. The following links contain useful information: Green Renters website and the The Victorian Green Renters Guide.
Many people in East Gippsland spend a lot of time at work. There are many opportunities for small and medium businesses to become more energy efficient, and many business tenants are moving into or asking for green buildings. Improved comfort conditions from more natural light and ventilation, greater thermal control and unwanted noise reduction, leads to better staff productivity.
An energy audit can be undertaken to find quick ways to make energy savings. East Gippsland Shire Council has undertaken energy audits on its eight highest energy consuming buildings and facilities, and has secured over $1.7 million in federal funding for energy efficiency upgrades on it's assets. For more information see the Bright Futures Project.
- Switch off at the end of the day. Ensure photocopiers, computers, printers and other equipment are switched off at night, weekends and during holidays. And remember, printer and photocopier 'powersave' modes often save little energy. As a bonus, the equipment is likely to last much longer.
- Buy only energy-saving equipment. The often higher cost of an energy saving appliance is eventually recouped with lower running costs over the life of the appliance.
- Gather a team. Set up and empower a staff committee to devise and help implement energy saving ideas, such as encourage staff to turn off lights and equipment when not in use.
- Work on laptops. They are far more efficient than desktop computers, typically consuming less than half the energy.
- Upgrade your monitors - LCD or LED monitors have greater energy efficiency than the older cathode-ray tubes monitors.
- Opt for a small screen. The smaller your monitor, the better. The larger your screen, the greater its energy consumption.
- Automate a power-down. Set all monitors to automatically turn off after 10 minutes of inactivity. Screensavers do not save energy.
- Too much light? Remove tubes from fluorescent fittings if there’s more light than needed.
- Take the efficient option. Use low-energy lights, especially in areas where the lights are on over long periods.
- Install controls. Invest in timers, movement detectors and light level sensors.
- Establish a 'switch off' campaign. Encourage staff to turn off lights and equipment when not in use.
Heating and Cooling
- Potential savings of around $180 to $400 a year can be made by keeping external doors closed. Leaving doors open can waste as much heat as leaving your heating running overnight.
- And remember to switch off all cooling and heating at night.
- A programmed thermostat that sets your heating systems to be operations approximately 30 minutes prior to commencement of work is far more energy efficient that operating heating all night. (Source http://www.energyaustralia.com.au/small-business/energy-saving/energy-saving-tips)
- Opt for GreenPower on your businesses electricity account to help drive demand and grow the renewable energy sector. GreenPower is the ability to purchase renewable energy as part of your electricity bill, usually without the need to change your energy supplier.
- When next updating fleet vehicles, use the Green Vehicle Guide to compare new Australian vehicles based on greenhouse and air pollution emissions. The Australian transport sector accounts for around 76 million tonnes of Australia's total net greenhouse gas emissions or 13.5 per cent of Australia's total emissions.
- For new cars consider a hybrid (part electric and part petrol), or a high-efficiency diesel model. Hybrids can reduce emissions by around 40%, and save petrol costs which add up over the life of the car. Make sure fuel savings are considered when calculating the up-front cost of the car. And slow down! At 110 km/h your car uses up to 25% more petrol than it would cruising at 90 km/h.
- Check out the Green Vehicle Guide and Green Car Sales website for more information.
Alternative Technology Association (ATA)
Business Victoria follow links to Grants and then Improve Sustainability
Environmental Protection Authority (Victoria)
Good Environmental Choice Australia
Green Building Council of Australia
Sustainable living facts sheets from Clean Up Australia Day
Department of Primary Industries - information about electricity including smart meters and renewable energy feed-in tariffs in Victoria
Department of Environment