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Lifestyle : Energy Efficiency 2012
1HERSA1 C021 A Herald Special Report Editor Bellinda Kontominas, email@example.com Advertising Richard Emanuel, 9282 3303, firstname.lastname@example.org Readerlink 9282 1569 Make the switch . . . modern light bulbs could save $71 a year. Photo: Getty Images The power is in your hands While there's no single fix when it comes to cutting your bills, a number of simple changes can help householders, writes Sue White. A ustralians may be an educated bunch but experts say many of us are still switched off when it comes to energy efficiency. ''We have a lot of room for improve- ment,'' says the energy efficiency advocate for Origin, Anne Armansin. Chris Dunstan, the chief execut- ive of the Australian Alliance to Save Energy and a research director at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney, agrees. ''Even in energy-temperate Sydney, it costs us more to heat [our houses] than places in Europe because of our energy-inefficient homes,'' he says. While there are lots of potential solutions -- including double-glazed windows, investing in gas or solar and simply sealing off gaps -- those looking for a single, quick fix might be disappointed. ''It's lots of little things,'' Dunstan says. Lighting, which makes up about 10 per cent of household energy use, is a good place to start. Armansin calculates that by upgrading to energy-efficient light bulbs such as compact fluorescent lamps the average Sydney home will save $71 a year. Upgrading to water-efficient shower heads should also cut household bills. ''It could save between $82 and $115 a year, depending on if your home has a gas or electric hot water system,'' Armansin says. With winter approaching, the issue of heating is about to affect most Sydney households. ''Double glazing is quite rare here,'' Dunstan says. ''Standard electric heating like blow heaters and radiators are a very expensive way to keep warm.'' Those with an energy-efficient reverse-cycle airconditioner will often do better using that than an inefficient portable electric heater. ''You'd easily save around $38 this winter heating a bedroom this way,'' Armansin says. For those with the budget and fuel supply, upgrading to an energy- efficient natural gas heater will save a typical Sydney household about $65 through winter, she says. Whether it's environmentally more sound to keep or replace an inefficient appliance varies accord- ing to the device. An old fridge usually should go, particularly if its motor is running constantly. New items tend to be more energy-efficient. ''Today's televisions are subject to far more stringent standby wattage rules than previously,'' Armansin says. ''Old televisions used between five and 35 watts an hour in standby power, whereas the new standard is less than one watt per hour in standby mode.'' Even with improvements in appli- ance efficiency, leaving items on standby mode is a mistake. Accord- ing to the federal government, appliances on standby can make up as much as 10 per cent of a house- hold's annual electricity spend. The solution? Dunstan recom- mends power boards with a single switch, as these allow users to turn off multiple devices simultaneously. ''Put your telephone on a separate power board to televisions, stereos and items that don't need to be constantly on standby,'' he says. Householders looking for govern- ment subsidies to motivate them to make energy-efficient changes will find offerings thin on the ground. Rebates in the form of Small-scale Technology Certificates are avail- able for those purchasing solar water heaters. However, the saving is typically bundled into the seller's price. For many householders, rising electricity prices and a sense of community are prompting them to change behaviours. ''At the Institute for Sustainable Futures, we are running a program of climate clubs,'' Dunstan says. ''[The clubs] turn saving energy at home into a community sport. In 2011, we had 480 homes participate ... some saved50per centor more on their electricity consumption.'' SPECIAL REPORT April 28-29, 2012 Energy efficiency *Solar Credits multiplier reduces from 3 to 2 for solar power systems installed after 30 June 2012. SH953_SMH_184259.6 Confused about solar? Call Solahart. Hurry: Solar Rebates reducing soon* Call your local Solahart Expert today! 1300 721 946 solahart.com.au We wanted to save on our energy bills with solar, so we called Solahart. Our local expert came to see us and explained the different solar water heating and solar power options as well as the available government incentives. He made it really easy to decide what was best for us and now were loving the savings.
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