Since I don’t have air con, I’m hoping the house is fairly efficient, despite heavy use of two computers. Recent bills show usage at around 8-10 kilowatt hours per day, throughout the year, with a peak of 11 kWh per day in July 2006.
That makes around 3300 kWh a year. Apparently the national average is around 6000 kWh, but 3500 kWh in cities like Perth which aren’t super-hot and have natural gas available for hot water (which is what really burns up the watts for those who have to use electricity for it).
Most of my lights are now CFLs, but there’s probably more I can do on this front, such as setting things up to be able to easily turn off most appliances at the wall instead of leaving them on standby power. Solar electricity is an option, though quite expensive, even with the current subsidies.
Cooking, hot water and central heating for me is by natural gas. Recent bills show usage at about 21 megajoules per day during summer, but a whopping 230 MJ per day in the coldest part of winter. Not sure how that compares with other homes.
Solar hot water (gas-boosted) is reasonably affordable with the rebates, so I’m seriously looking at the options there. But given the bulk of the gas is probably central heating, better insulation may be more effective in the short term.
What I’d like to see from the federal government is commitment to help people reduce their energy needs. Better public transport will help a lot. (See the PTUA’s evaluation of policies). And for buildings, more money for household and commercial solar installations could be the way to go.
For all the talk about nuclear and the myth of clean coal, both of these will cost years and billions and billions to develop (if they work at all). And in the mean time, solar technology is available now, and mass production for Australia’s sunny cities should see the price drop. So how about the right mix of subsidies and rebates to get solar panels up on more roofs?
Get the states mandating better building designs (hint: if you must have huge windows, don’t have them facing the summer sun), and we’ll be going a fair way towards reducing our energy use, and generating more of it sustainably.