Households are among the biggest drains on Australia’s electricity grid, making up about 10% of our national energy consumption. For a greener future, we all need to reduce our home energy use.
The best way to make a big impact is by switching to renewable energy. But what exactly does that entail?
Renewable energy is created from resources such as solar, wind and hydro. Unlike the traditional power source of coal, which creates greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change, when it is burned to produce electricity, renewable sources are environmentally friendly. It’s power that doesn’t hurt the planet.
Making the move to a greener lifestyle – including adopting renewable energy – doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Here’s a simple guide to getting started on your clean energy journey.
Invest in eco solutions
If you own your home, there are a couple of powerful changes you can make.
An easy but effective measure is installing an energy monitor to track your electricity usage. You’ll be able to keep an eye on how much you’re using and rein things in if usage is getting a little high. Some models will even identify which specific appliances are draining your power.
If you have a smart meter, it only takes a few minutes to set up energy monitoring. If you have a traditional meter will need to call in the electrician for what should be a pretty simple job. The more you know about your energy consumption, the better you can manage it.
You could also look at insulating your home, if you haven’t already. Insulation helps keep your home at a comfortable natural temperature, meaning you’ll use less heating and cooling. In fact, it can cut home electricity use by up to 45%.
Reduce your use
The greenest energy is the energy you don’t use. An essential step towards creating an eco-friendlier home is cutting back on your electricity consumption.
There are a few simple ways to reduce your energy use. One is washing your clothes using cold water. About 90% of the power used by our washing machines goes towards heating the water, so you’ll cut back massively on your energy consumption by ditching the heat. As a bonus, your clothes will last longer – hot water washes cause colours to fade faster.
Other ideas include switching off appliances at the wall (items such as games consoles and televisions can consume electricity even when they’re not being used) and using LED light bulbs, which are more energy efficient than old incandescent or halogen globes.
You could also consider adjusting the thermostat, as our heating and cooling devices are notorious for guzzling power. You don’t have to turn them off, just tweak the temperature – even a one-degree difference can make a big difference to the amount of electricity you use.
Get with a green provider
Your next step could be switching over to an electricity company that provides an eco-friendlier product.
There are two main ways to tackle this. The first is to go with a retailer that offers a GreenPower, a federal government-accredited scheme that invests in renewable energy.
GreenPower essentially allows consumers to opt in to pay extra on top of their power bills to financially support the development of wind turbines, hydroelectric stations and solar farms. It doesn’t mean the energy you use in your home will be from renewable sources – the grid is supplied by both renewable sources and coal-fired plants and you can’t choose what you get – but it does mean that you are supporting the production of more renewable power.
Of course, opting to go with GreenPower will add to the cost of your bills, sometimes quite substantially.
You could also do your own research into the more environmentally friendly power providers (keeping in mind that none are perfect – some are just better than others). An easy way to do this is by reading the Green Electricity Guide, a review and ranking of Australia’s electricity providers published by Greenpeace. An updated version of Australia’s guide will arrive in early 2022.
Or better yet, invest in your own system
To ensure at least some of the electricity you use at home is renewable, you can install solar panels. With your own renewable energy source ready to go, you’ll reduce your reliance on the electricity grid.
Going beyond panels, you could also install a battery that stores the sun’s energy during the day for you to use when the sun goes down, so that you don’t have to tap into the grid after dark. This has the added bonus of taking pressure off the grid, as it stabilises energy supply and demand.
With Plico, going green doesn’t come with big upfront costs. Plico makes solar power available on a subscription model, meaning you pay a weekly fee, starting at $36.90. This includes 10 years of servicing and maintenance on your solar system. Plico also monitors performance to make sure things are running optimally.
It’s a model that enables all homeowners to reduce their footprint; bigger households can save money in the long term, too. A solar + battery system can be the best green power solution of all.