LIVING GREEN: Energy consumption down

February 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

IT was pointed out to me recently that over the past 10 years, the average Australian household had reduced its electricity consumption by 23 per cent

IT was pointed out to me recently that over the past 10 years, the average Australian household had reduced its electricity consumption by 23 per cent.

At the same time, gas consumption has fallen by 15per cent.

Unfortunately, these figures from Australian Bureau of Statistics do not tell us why the consumption has reduced so markedly.

Giles Parkinson, writing in Renew Economy late last year, pointed out that electricity prices rose 93per cent over the decade, and gas prices rose 74per cent.

Such increases can certainly concentrate the mind, especially with more energy price rises sure to come.

Under these circumstances many people are no doubt increasingly aware of the wisdom of energy efficiency in the home, and various levels of government are heavily promoting ways to reduce power consumption, and therefore the production of greenhouse gases, while not necessarily compromising quality of life.

Looked at another way, there has been a culture of wasting energy in Australia until fairly recent times, so easy reductions have been found by those looking to plug the leaky boat.

Even so, the electricity reduction is surprising, given the popularity of big TV screens and the ubiquity of the computer.

Of course there are still large savings in electricity available to the average home, although sometimes you have to spend money to save money – such as when you install roof insulation or upgrade your old electric hot-water system to a heat pump or solar.

But back to the statistics, Parkinson points out that households are using 12per cent less electricity than they were three years ago – but total energy use is up 4per cent if you include petrol, diesel, LPG, wood, etc).

Incredibly, there has been a 9per cent reduction in total electricity consumption over the decade, despite our population increase. 

GREENHOUSE GAS FULL ALERT

THE increase in energy efficiency is good news, but with total energy consumption always on the rise (albeit with an increase in renewable energy), there is obviously no place for complacency when it comes to greenhouse gases.

Mark Diesendorf, from the University of NSW, is a name well known to anyone in Australia with a serious interest in renewable energy.

He has a new book out called Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change (UNSW Press, 352 pages, RRP$54.99). The publisher says the book ‘‘is a call to action on climate change, filled with clear and detailed information on the strategies we need to adopt to ensure a sustainable future for the planet’’.

Diesendorf and his team are responsible for one of three reports that I am aware of that conclude it is both technically feasible and affordable for Australia to transition to 100per cent renewable energy with current technology.

TIME TO CLEAN UP AUSTRALIA

THIS year’s Clean Up Australia Day will take place on Sunday, March 2.

Volunteers are being called on to organise and register a local site, such as a park or beach, that needs cleaning up.

You can register as an individual, community group, business or school.

Site organisers are asked to register by this Friday  to receive a free clean-up kit, which includes bags, gloves, information and promotional material.

Go to cleanup.org.au or phone 1800282329.

Eco Events

NATIVE BEE WORKSHOP
Are you interested in bee biology, bee behaviour and/or keeping native bees?  Hear DrTim Heard, long-term stingless beekeeper, cover these topics and more. Cost: $25. Bookings essential at uononlineshop.com.
Wednesday, February 12: 9am-1pm, Hunter Wetlands Centre, 412 Sandgate Road, Shortland.
Wednesday, February 12: 4pm-8pm, Industry Development Centre, University Drive, Callaghan.

SURFRIDER FOUNDATION
 HUNTER REGION LAUNCH

Featuring live music, guest speakers, canapés on arrival and prizes. All money raised will go towards protecting local beaches. Cost: $15. Go to stickytickets.com.au/15099 to buy tickets.
Wednesday, February 12: 6pm, Cazador, Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle. 

SACRED TREE MARKETS
An eclectic and boutique market featuring handmade artisan products, fresh produce, food and entertainment.
Sunday, February 16: 9am-2pm, cnr New England Highway and Station Street, Branxton. 

FARMERS’ MARKETS
Sunday, February 16: 8am-1pm, Newcastle Showground.
Saturday, February 22: 8am-1pm, Speers Point Park. 

HABITATS AND ANIMALS OF THE DEEP SEA
Hear Dr Alan Jordan from the NSW Fisheries Research Branch talk about the types of habitats and species found in the deep ocean, and the equipment used to survey these depths. Cost: $10 (includes a glass of wine).
Thursday, February 20: 5.30pm-7pm, Newcastle Museum, Workshop Way, Newcastle.  Bookings essential on 49741400. 

CHEMICAL DROP-OFF
Safely dispose of your household chemicals and paint free of charge. All NSW residents welcome.
Saturday, February 22: 9am-3.30pm, Scone Saleyards, Muffett Street, Scone. Go to cleanout.com.au or phone 131555 for details.

MANDALA GARDENS COURSE
This weekend course will take participants through setting up and running a Mandala garden, an efficient garden design suitable for growing a variety of organic fruit and vegetables in your own backyard. Cost: $200.
Saturday, February 22 and Sunday, February 23: 9am-4pm (both days), Purple Pear Farm, 131 Anambah Rd, Anambah. Bookings at purplepearfarm.com.au or on 49320443.

AMATEUR BEEKEEPERS MEETING
Sunday, February 23: 10am, Hunter Botanic Gardens, Pacific Highway, Heatherbrae. Phone 49593138. 

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