Energy and Climate Booklet ECO‐WISE ACTION WORKSHOPS
Eco‐Wise Action was funded by the Department of Sustainability and Environment
1. Background Information ............................................................................................2 2. Tips for Saving Energy at Home .................................................................................4 3. You can make a difference…......................................................................................9 4. Energy commitments...............................................................................................15
1. Background Information We’ve all heard that our climate is changing and that the way that we produce energy is a problem. The good news is that we can do something about it. Reducing your energy use isn’t only good for the climate, it can also make your home more comfortable and cost you less on your bills. First, here’s the connection between energy use and climate.
Energy and Environment When we talk about climate change we often talk about global warming, but this is only part of the picture. Not only has the Earth's average temperature increased over the last century, but rainfall patterns are changing and weather is becoming more extreme. The Earth is surrounded by a blanket of gases which filter the sun’s energy and trap heat, resulting in a natural greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) occur naturally, trapping heat in the atmosphere and making the Earth warm enough for life. Human activities have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This increases the blanket of gases and leads to further heating of the planet and climate change. Today there is one third more CO2 in the air than there was when humans started burning coal at an industrial scale 200 years ago. Activities which release CO2 into the air include burning coal for electricity, using petrol in our cars, intensive agriculture and land clearing. Every year, Victorians release more than 40 million tonnes of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Per person, that makes us one of the world’s worst greenhouse gas polluters.
The Effects of Climate Change We don’t know exactly what climate change will do to life on Earth but what we do know is: • • •
Weather patterns are changing and becoming more severe. For example, we are getting more flooding, droughts, heat waves and extreme cold. The effects are uneven. Temperature rise is higher towards the poles than the equator, and over land rather than sea. Some ecosystems will be severely damaged or completely destroyed, meaning extinction of plants and animals.
In Victoria the effects we are seeing include: • More heat waves and more cold snaps • More bushfires • Less rain and more drought • Less water in our rivers and in our dams • Less snow cover in the alpine areas.
Energy in Victoria Most energy in Australia comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and petrol, which creates greenhouse gases. About 92 percent of electricity in Victoria comes from burning brown coal. Brown coal has a low energy density and high water content. This means that brown coal produces less energy and more pollution per kilogram than any other fossil fuel. In Victoria, burning brown coal to generate electricity is responsible for over half of our greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy Consumption in Your Home One third of Victoria’s energy (electricity and gas) is used in the home. Here’s where we use it:
Source: Victorian Energy Efficiency Action Statement, Department of Sustainability and Environment, 2006.
The areas where we use the most energy are also where there’s plenty of room to make energy savings. An average house uses about 17 kilowatt hours of energy a day, but an energy efficient household of four uses about 5 kilowatt hours.
2. Tips for saving energy at home There are heaps of ways that you can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by doing things a little differently at home. Here are some ideas on what you can do.
GreenPower GreenPower is the single easiest way to cut your greenhouse gas emissions from electricity use. And usually there’s no need to change your current supplier. When you sign up for GreenPower, your electricity supplier buys electricity from renewable sources on your behalf. It’s like getting solar panels or a wind turbine, without having to know how to install them yourself. GreenPower does cost a bit more – typically from $1 to $6 a week. This cost can be offset by savings made by changing light bulbs or turning down your heating thermostat. If you choose to join the 900,000 odd Australians that have already made the switch, make sure you switch to government accredited GreenPower by visiting www.greenpower.gov.au.
Energy Rating Labels Australia's energy rating labels make it easy to compare the energy efficiency of heaters, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, air conditioners and televisions (and more products will be labeled in the future). The label has two main features: • A star rating that compares similar appliances (similar size and type) out of six stars. Appliances with more stars are more energy efficient. If possible, aim for four or more. • A number that estimates typical energy use in a home (usually in kilowatt hours over a year). Look at the number as well as the stars. A large refrigerator might have a high star rating because it is efficient compared to other large refrigerators. However if you only need a small refrigerator you will use less kilowatt hours per year if you buy a small one, even if it has a low star rating. The energy use number will show this. You can compare energy ratings on the stickers on appliances in the shops, or online at www.energyrating.gov.au, for both new and older models.
Heating and Cooling Victoria’s electricity grid can get overloaded, especially on very hot days in summer when lots of people are using air conditioning. This puts vulnerable people like seniors who cannot cope with heat at risk. Although it is the hardest time not to cool your home, before you switch on the air conditioner try following the tips below to stop your house heating up so much in the first place. • Fans offer the most efficient form of cooling with the lowest running costs, purchase price, energy use and greenhouse emissions. • Shut curtains during the day to keep out heat and open windows at night to let in breezes. • Don’t leave your heater or cooling system running all night or while you’re out. Installing a timer can help you with this. • Heat or cool the space you are in by closing doors to parts of your home that aren’t occupied. • Setting your air conditioner thermostat to 24°C to 27°C in summer should allow you to be comfortable and save money. In winter, heat your rooms to between 19 and 21°C. Use a thermometer to check the temperature if you don’t have a thermostat. Heating and cooling is more than half of a typical household’s energy bill each year.
Insulation and Draughts •
• • • • •
Insulate the ceiling first and then if possible insulate walls and under floors. This will stop chilling draughts. See the Your Home Technical Guide for details at www.yourhome.gov.au/technical/fs47.html. Ceiling insulation for a typical home costs about $1600, and even without rebates this pays for itself in cheaper bills and greater comfort. You might be surprised to hear that insulation also keeps your cooler in the summer. Foil insulation installed inside the roof will help reflect heat and keep the summer heat out. Old insulation can compact. New insulation can be put on top of it. Seal any draughts in your home with draught excluders and sealing tape around doors and windows, and even use a simple draught snake for the gaps under doors. These supplies are available at low cost at hardware stores. If you can, block any chimneys when you aren’t using them, to reduce heat loss.
Windows • • • •
Install heavy curtains or solid blinds to keep your home comfortable in summer and winter. Window pelmets (boxes attached to the wall that cover the curtain rod) prevent significant loss of heat around the curtains. If you have north facing windows, open up curtains and blinds to let the winter sun in and help warm up your house. Products such as Clear Comfort (plastic film attached with two‐sided tape), Magnetite Windows (acrylic panels held by magnetic strips) can be added to windows to provide the benefits of double glazing at a much cheaper cost.
Shading north, west and east facing windows in summer will make a big difference to the amount of heat getting in.
Water Heating Heating water for the shower, laundry and dishes uses one fifth of energy use in a typical home in Victoria. Getting a water saving showerhead doesn’t just save water, it also saves the energy needed to heat water. Most water retailers provide them for free. Insulate any bits of hot water pipe which are outside. You can buy the insulation (called “lagging”) for less than $10 from a hardware store, and it is easy to put on yourself. Find the thermostat on your hot water service. If you have a storage hot water system (a large tank) check it is set to around 60° Celsius. This is hot enough for household needs and ensures no bacteria builds up in your system. For an instantaneous system (a small box on the wall), the temperature should be set at 50 degrees or less. Turn the system off when you go on holidays and you don’t use it for long periods. There are usually instructions on the system on how to start it again when you get home. Otherwise switch it to the “vacation” setting (if it has one). Consider installing solar hot water heating. There is a higher upfront cost, but it will save money in the long term by reducing your energy bills. There are government rebates available to help lower the cost. Instantaneous gas hot water heating is also an excellent option. If you can’t install solar and don’t have gas, consider getting a heat pump system. It is the most efficient way to heat water using electricity and rebates are also available for this.
Lighting Lighting uses a small amount (3 percent) of the energy used a typical home; however, it’s easy to make changes that will lower energy use everyday. • Change old style incandescent light globes to compact fluorescent energy efficient light globes. Compact fluorescents last 8 times as long and use only one fifth of the energy. • Use the lowest watt globe you need to adequately light an area. • Use natural light when possible – open the curtains! • Switch lights off every time you leave a room.
Use timers to control outdoor and security lighting and make sure outdoor lights are switched off during the day.
Laundry • • •
Dry your clothes using a washing line or clothes rack wherever possible. Tumble dryers use a lot of energy! When using a washing machine, wash your clothes in cold water – the clean is just as good, it’s better for your clothes and saves the energy to heat water. If you use a dryer, clean the lint filter after each load.
Standby energy Standby energy is the energy an appliance uses when you are not using it but it isn’t fully switched off. If your TV, DVD player, microwave or computer has a red or green light or clock glowing when you are not using it, or if it is operated by remote control, then it is using standby energy. • Standby energy can account for 10 percent of the energy on your bill. • To avoid this, turn standby appliances off at the power point. • Televisions and radios will keep their station settings even when the power is turned off. • With computers, as long as you save your work and shut down the computer correctly nothing will be lost.
Fridge Your fridge runs everyday, all year, so it’s important to have it running well. Here are some tips: • Keep a space between the wall and the rear of your fridge for the air to circulate, preventing overheating. • Check that the seals on your fridge are keeping in all of the cold air. • If your freezer fills with ice, defrost it regularly. • When buying a new fridge, try to match its size to your needs. If it’s too small it will struggle to work efficiently, and if it is too big it will waste energy. • Check the thermostat – fridges should be at 4°C and freezers at 15°C below zero. • If you have a second fridge, switching it off will make a big difference to your energy use, and will also make your power bill cheaper.
Cooking • • • •
Use a microwave rather than an electric stove top when you can. It uses far less energy because it cooks more quickly. Only heat the water that you will use. E.g. If you are only making two cups of tea, then only boil enough water for two cups of tea. Try to use the right sized pot or pan for the amount of food you are cooking, and keep lids on when cooking. Check that the seals on your oven are keeping the door closed and avoid opening the oven door more than you need to.
Transport • • • • • •
Driving isn’t great for the planet. Planning trips so that you complete a number of tasks in one trip can help you drive less. When you can, try to car pool with others to reduce your number of trips. Try to keep you car correctly maintained, so it runs as efficiently as possible. Driving smoothly and avoiding accelerating and braking uses less petrol, which means less greenhouse gas emissions and spending less money at the petrol station. Walking, cycling or public transport are all good options for short trips, and they’ll even give you a bit of exercise. Public transport information for Melbourne and regional Victoria is available from www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au and 131 638. Contact your council to see if they have a TravelSmart map with detailed bicycle and public transport information. Some Melbourne bike paths are shown on Melways map 592
3. You can make a difference… To help make a difference to the environment, look at your energy use. Use this checklist to find out where you are doing well and where you could do better. Not all actions are appropriate for everyone, but this checklist should give you some ideas of what to work on. Then make some commitments to what you will definitely change in the near future, using the list that follows.
GreenPower Easy Actions Do you use GreenPower? No
Heating and cooling Easy Actions Do you heat or cool just the rooms you are using? No
In winter, is the heating set too high, i.e. too warm? Yes In summer, is the cooling set too low, i.e. too cool? Yes In summer, are the rooms which are most used on the warmer sunny (northern) side of the building? Yes In winter are the rooms which are most used on the cooler shady (southern) side of the building? Yes
Look into switching to accredited GreenPower (electricity generated from renewable sources).
Heat or cool the areas being used rather than paying to heat/cool empty rooms Close doors to stop warm/cool air from escaping to rooms that aren’t being used Block draughts between heated or cooled rooms and rooms that aren’t being used Set heating at 19° to 21°C (use a thermometer if you don’t have a thermostat).
Set cooling at 24° to 27°C (use a thermometer if you don’t have a thermostat).
Try to use the cooler shady (southern) side of your home more – it gets less summer sun.
Try to use the warmer sunny (northern) side of your home more – it gets more winter sun.
Heating and cooling Slightly harder actions Are there draughts around the house? Yes
Do the windows have curtains or blinds? No Do the windows which get a lot of sun (north/west/east facing) have external shading in summer? No
Are the windows that get a lot of sun (north/west/east facing) externally shaded in winter? Yes Are there window pelmets (box‐like structure which covers the curtain rod)? No Is there double glazing or equivalent window insulation? No Is the ceiling insulated? No
Check if gaps need to be blocked at: Gaps under external doors Edges of windows Exhaust fans Open fire places Cracks in wooden floors Fixed wall vents Old ceiling roses Other cracks and gaps located at:_______________________ Install heavy curtains or solid blinds (not ones with slats) that cover the whole window space and extend below the window frame, leaving no gaps. Install external blinds or awnings OR Buy tinted/reflective window coverings. Go for ones you can remove in winter to let in the winter sun, e.g. roller blind style ones, or ones that attach using Velcro dots stuck to the glass OR Plant deciduous trees or vines to provide shade. Adjust or remove shading in winter to allow sunlight in.
Install window pelmets
If you can afford it, install double glazed windows OR Install cheaper alternatives such as Clear Comfort or Magnetite. Insulate the ceiling
Heating and cooling More slightly harder actions Is your current heater inefficient or expensive to run? Yes
If you have an air conditioner, is it inefficient or expensive to run? Yes
Does the house design allow you to heat or cool individual rooms? No
Hot water Easy Actions Is the hot water system set at a higher temperature than it needs to be? Yes Do you take showers which are longer than four minutes? Yes
Consider if a new heating system is really needed and if so… Install gas space heating – if gas is connected If gas is not connected, install, Ideally a 5 star reverse cycle heater OR If reverse cycle is not an option, use a portable electric heater which has a thermostat and fan, and is the right size for the space Always go for a heater with a high energy star rating. Consider if a new cooling system is really needed and if so… Buy a pedestal fan (cheapest to buy and run, has the lowest emissions, and is portable!) OR if an air conditioner is needed, go for: One or two coolers, so you can just cool the rooms you’re using, instead of ducted cooling which will waste energy on cooling empty rooms Evaporative cooling instead of refrigerated. These use water but less energy – go for the model that uses the least water. Always check for the highest energy star rating. If your house is open plan or doesn’t have many doors, see if you can install internal doors or curtains to zone off rooms into small areas to heat or cool Note: You may need professional advice.
Set the hot water system to 60°C if it’s a storage hot water system (a large tank), or to 50°C or less if it is an instantaneous system (a small box on the wall).
Aim to reduce shower length to four minutes or less per day. Use a shower timer.
Hot water Slightly harder actions Has the shower head been changed over to a low flow, water saving shower head? No Are sections of the pipes from the hot water service outside? Yes Is your hot water system inefficient or expensive to run? Yes
Laundry Easy Actions Do you usually use the cold and economic wash options for laundry? No Wherever possible, do you dry clothes on the clothes line? No If you use a dryer, do you usually run it only when it’s full and on the economy/delicate setting? No Slightly harder actions If you have a tumble dryer, is it inefficient or expensive to run? Yes
Get a low flow shower head (usually available free of charge from the local water authority). Insulate exposed hot water pipes with lagging (foam insulation tubing). Consider if a new hot water system is really needed and if so… Best option: install solar hot water Second best option if gas is connected: install a gas instantaneous system Second best option if gas isn’t connected: install a heat pump system Third best option if gas isn’t connected: install an electric instantaneous system Always check for the highest energy star rating. Note: Refer to possible grants and rebates available.
Wash laundry in cold water and on the economic wash option. Where possible, dry clothes on the line and reduce use of the clothes dryer. Run the dryer when full and on the economy/delicate setting Clean the lint filter after every use Consider if a new dryer is really needed and if so… Find a small tumble dryer Always check for the highest energy star rating. Note: Refer to possible grants and rebates available.
Appliances Easy actions Are appliances regularly left on standby? Yes
Are the fridge and freezer set at a cooler temperature than needed? (Check using a thermometer.) Yes Does the fridge have adequate ventilation and shut properly, and are the seals tight? No Slightly harder actions Do you need special devices to to help you use less standby energy? (E.g. Power boards with a switch for each plug, or power point switches which work by remote control.) Yes Is the current fridge inefficient, expensive to run or much larger than you need it to be? Yes
Switch off the following appliances when not in use: Mobile phone charger TV VCR/DVD player Stereo Microwave Air conditioning or heating unit Computer, monitor and printer Other Set the fridge to 4°C Set the freezer to 15°C below zero If you have an older freezer, defrost it regularly Move the fridge slightly forward off the wall to leave space for ventilation Make sure hinges work correctly and nothing in the fridge is stopping it closing If the door seals aren’t tight, replace them Install devices to reduce standby energy use. NB: Do not use with fridge or freezer as these need to operate continuously.
Is a new fridge really needed? Can the old one be repaired?. Can the fridge be swapped for smaller one?
If a new fridge is needed, the replacement fridge size is (choose smallest suitable for your needs): A bar fridge Small fridge Medium sized fridge Large fridge Also check for a high energy star rating, good seals and check the door closes easily. Note: If you are on a concession card, refer to possible grants and rebates available.
Kitchen Easy actions When making a cup of tea, do you fill the whole kettle? Yes Do you use a dishwasher? Yes
Slightly harder actions Is the dishwasher is inefficient or expensive to run? Yes
Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need, e.g. two cups of tea requires two cups of boiling water Hand washing in a small amount of water can use less energy than dishwashers, and less water than older dishwashers. If you do use a dishwasher: Minimise the number of loads Only run it when it’s full Use the economy cycle Consider if a new dishwasher is really needed and if so… Buy a dishwasher that is as small as possible to suit your needs. If possible find a dishwater that has separate inlets for hot water (which you can heat more efficiently using solar hot water or instantaneous gas) Avoid using the dry function Always check for the highest energy and water star rating.
4. Energy commitments The best way of following through with good intentions is committing to change. Choose the actions you would like to take, and tick the boxes on the right to remind yourself that you’re serious. If you are already taking most of these actions, try pledging to encourage someone else to take action in the row at the bottom. Then stick this page on your fridge.
……………………………………………………………… I’m doing my bit Things I plan to do to look after the planet Set my thermostat at 19‐21°C in winter and not below 24‐27° C in summer. This will save you 960kg of greenhouse gases every year Switch off my second fridge. This will save 730kg of greenhouse gases every year Reduce my shower length to four minutes or less. This will save 800kg of greenhouse gases every year Dry my clothes on a washing line or clothes horse instead of using a tumble dryer whenever possible. This will save 318kg of greenhouse gases every year Wash my clothes only when I have a full load and use the cold water option. This will save 215kg greenhouse gases every year Switch off appliances at the power point when not in use, e.g. mobile phone chargers, TVs, DVD players and computers. This will save 390kg of greenhouse gases every year Switch to using 100% accredited GreenPower, and so support the development of the renewable energy industry. This will save 8300kg of greenhouse gases every year Change my showerhead over to a low flow shower head. This will save 1400kg greenhouse gas every year Get ceiling insulation installed. This will save 2090kg of greenhouse gases every year Investigate installing solar hot water. Encourage my friends and family to: (name actions)
I pledge to do this
I do this already
Environment Victoria mobilises people to safeguard our environment. As the state’s peak non‐profit environment group, we believe our future depends on all Victorians. That’s why we’re asking all 5 million of us to be part of looking after our environment. With your help, we can persuade every Victorian to get involved. It won't be easy. But 5 million people can get our representatives hopping. Get businesses bending over backwards to become truly green. Get the whole country to pay attention. Maybe even the world. So what do you say? Are you in? Visit www.environmentvictoria.org.au today or ring 9341 8100. Disclaimer Environment Victoria provides this workshop booklet as a guide. However, it cannot take responsibility or liability for any loss, damage or injury incurred as a result of the use of any of the information within this workshop package. We recommend that you obtain appropriate professional advice and assistance where necessary.
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Published on Sep 20, 2010