Reducing Electricity Bills in Australia: Plus a ClimateWorks Contest

I’m not generally known as a “save the planet” kind of guy, I suspect because of my fierce opposition to the carbon tax. That’s not to say I am against being kind to the environment; I make great efforts to ensure that every single one of my empty beer tinnies and stubbies are placed in the correct recycling bin.

I just don’t agree that the carbon tax is the way to deal with environmental issues.

Reducing carbon emissions though, by way of your own efforts is, in my view, highly recommended. Not only does it save the Earth’s valuable energy resources like coal, gas and electricity, it also saves you money.

We all like saving money, don’t we?

Climate Works Australia

So when I was contacted by a company representing Climate Works Australia, asking me if I would like a free home assessment (value $250) that would help me save money, I of course said “yes”.

When they went on to say I could offer the same value assessment to the lucky winner of a competition (details below) that I could hold here on my website, I said “well yes, sure!”

When they then added that the lucky winner would also receive a free retro-fit (additional value of up to another further $250, more details below) I said “where’s my free retro-fit?”

I wasn’t getting one, they said. Never mind.

The home assessment.

My assessor arrived at about 1.30 pm and after a bit of friendly chat asked me for my most recent electricity bill. He went out and took a meter reading, and then estimated that our household usually uses around 30 kWh per day, but during winter, when we use the heating in the evenings, it’s about 40 kWh per day.

Yes, even in Brisbane, it does get rather chilly in the evenings.

My assessor then systematically went around the house looking at every appliance and estimating weekly, monthly and yearly running costs of each.

The pool pump takes around 1 kW per hour, so as it is on for an average of six hours per day, that’s 6 kWh at a cost of about $1.40 per day, or $42 a month. The TV takes up another 4 kWh per day, so between the two of them account for another 10 kWh.

So that leaves 20 kW per day to be used, around six of those are for the fridges, plus two computers on all day long at about 250 watts the pair, is another 4 kWh.

The 10 kWh we now have left over run the dishwasher, the vacuum cleaner, the washing machine and the tumble dryer, hairdryer, cooker, oven, microwave, kettle, lights and whatever else we might have left.

His assessment.

After about an hour and a half, my assessor left promising to send me a full written report within the week. Two days later, it was in my inbox.

What were the recommendations?

Before that, did you know SE Queensland is reported to be the region with the highest per capita electricity consumption on the planet? That’s how his report started, I wasn’t sure I believed it.

warningSo I did a little research, and I found this from a Queensland Parliamentary document.

“On a per capita basis, Australia produces more greenhouse gases than any other country. In fact, around 30 per cent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions come from just one state, Queensland. This is a shocking statistic when you consider that Queenslanders only account for around a fifth of the nation’s population.”

Queensland, we have a problem.

The recommendations…

No cost solutions:

  • Check integrity of roof insulation.
  • Check leakage of warm air through air con ceiling vents using an incense stick.
  • Turn off solar hot water booster.
  • Turn off power to air con when not in use to eliminate potential standby power drain.
  • Keep fridges mostly full for greatest efficiency.
  • Reset mean temperature of fridges (mine were too low).
  • Set power save modes on desktop computers and TV.

Low-cost solutions:

  • Relocate air con thermostat to the living area for better performance.
  • Replace halogen down lights with energy efficient bulbs.
  • Install curtains or blinds to reduce heat loss at the windows.
  • Connect the pool pump to a low rate electricity tariff.

High cost solutions:

  • Buy solar power.

My assessment of his assessment.

There were some no-cost solutions he mentioned that I haven’t included in the above list which, according to his calculations, would have reduced my energy consumption by 929.7 kWh, reducing my CO2 emissions by 775 kg and saving me $232 per year.

Impressive, yes, but the downside was the solutions simply involved using stuff less. For example, watch one hour less of television per day. What goes then? My football highlights show? Mrs BobinOz’s Masterchef? Or Elizabeth Wizards of Waverley? Should we fight over it? Every day!

Turning the heating off during winter for an extra three hours each evening simply leaves us cold for three hours in the evening. Can’t see that working. The suggestion to use our tumble dryer 3.3 hours less a week is a no go, we don’t think we even have it on that much in total.

But maybe we would get away with one hour less per day on the pool pump, that would save us around $90 per year.

On the low-cost solutions, I really liked the idea of replacing my down lights with energy saving bulbs. I have 14 down lights at 50 watts a pop, it would cost me an absolute maximum of $140 to replace these lights with 4 W energy saving bulbs that give out the same light, but I could get them for as little as $60 on eBay.

Estimated energy saving would be $172 and a massive 575 kg of CO2 per year. Now we’re cooking!

As for the, high cost solution, we already know I have taken the plunge and invested in solar power.

Conclusion

I’m quite savvy when it comes to the running costs of electrical appliances. Savvy, but also slow. For example, I had a 500 W halogen bulb lamp in our lounge which used to be switched on at around seven o’clock in the evening, every day. It would stay on until I, a serious night owl, went to bed.

So I ditched it and replace it with a 10 W energy-saving bulb in a different lamp. That one change saved me over $50 per quarter in electricity. Unfortunately, it took me two years before I realised the stupidity of the old lamp.

That’s about $400 wasted and probably something like 1300 kg of unnecessary CO2 over that period.

So doing a carbon emissions exercise NOW does make sense, whether you get someone round or you do yourself. And you don’t have to do it to save the planet; you can do it simply to save money.

Win an Energy Opportunities Home Assessment valued at $250, plus another $250 retro-fitting for a total value of $500!

Sorry, this competition is now closed, Nicky was our lucky winner.

This competition is open to anyone living in Australia. You can have your home assessed just like I did, except you will also get up to $250 worth of retro-fitting.

What does that mean?

Here’s a good example; I would have got 14 energy saving light bulbs for free, and still had change. Maybe enough change to relocate the air con thermostat! All paid for and done for me.

But of course, I didn’t get a retro-fit.

You can though, and it’s very simple to enter:

  1. Go to ClimateWorksAustralia.org
  2. Watch “Case Study: A Household”, and while you are there, why not check out some of the other videos too.
  3. Then come back here and place a comment below answering the following question…

What would you do with the money you save by following the tips on the Empower website?

The winner will be announced one month from today. Good luck and don’t forget to add your answers below…

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{ 26 comments… add one }
  • BobinOz September 4, 2012, 6:57 pm | Link

    Hi Everybody

    Just heard back from our sponsors, they have randomly selected the winner using the most advanced and energy efficient equipment. I have now been handed a plain white envelope.

    And the winner is….

    >>>

    Drumroll

    >>>

    It’s

    >>>

    Nicky!

    Woot, woot, hurrah, hurrah.

    Unlucky all the other participants, it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts.

    Nicky, I will send you a separate email explaining how to claim your prize.

    My thanks to everyone who took part.

    Cheers

    Bob

  • BobinOz September 4, 2012, 12:25 am | Link

    OK, the competition is now closed.

    I am waiting for the organisers to select a winner.

    Stay tuned!

  • John August 30, 2012, 10:28 pm | Link

    Well I half censored it before you so you saw it >>shot <<<its now a naughty word?

  • John August 29, 2012, 7:19 pm | Link

    At least with camels you know what sorta *poo* (edit by Bob) they put in em….
    Censor sensor sensor whoopsy’s i mean…

    • BobinOz August 30, 2012, 7:42 pm | Link

      Naughty naughty, you know the rules about bad language!

      See, censorship, alive and well on BobinOz.

  • John August 29, 2012, 3:19 pm | Link

    Do what they did in the movie “the great escape.”
    Put it in your pockets and walk up and down he streets and drop it the sand there.
    It shouldnt take too long. The camels are a worry though. Are they house trained? Years ago we used to smoke em…

    • BobinOz August 29, 2012, 6:35 pm | Link

      Can’t smoke ’em now, it’s all plain packaging.

  • David August 29, 2012, 3:05 pm | Link

    Hey Bob,

    I’d like to move some sand…

    (?)

    You see, we just bought a house and the previous owners had kids, and they built them a sandpit in the garden. The whole thing must weight a tonne, and that not including the camels 😉

    It has to go…

    • BobinOz August 29, 2012, 6:35 pm | Link

      Why not adopt some kids? They’d enjoy the sand.

  • Cat August 21, 2012, 3:44 pm | Link

    If I win, I will buy a recheargable car vacuum cleaner for my DH [dear husband]. Will choose the one that has the highest energy rating (Do they rate vaccuums?!..)

    –but only if I don’t find a bag that I like at the time of winning–

    • BobinOz August 21, 2012, 10:06 pm | Link

      I can read in between the lines, you’ll buy a bag, won’t you?

      • Cat August 22, 2012, 5:01 pm | Link

        Not telling Bob, until you announce me as your winner. =p

        • BobinOz August 24, 2012, 1:40 pm | Link

          Okay. What kind of bag are you getting?

          • Cat August 27, 2012, 2:03 pm | Link

            You are asking me what bag, does it mean I won?

            I said I am not telling until you announce me as your winner. =p

            • BobinOz August 29, 2012, 2:24 pm | Link

              Not so fast! Still a couple more days to run yet.

              Have you put it on layby?

              • Cat August 30, 2012, 10:42 am | Link

                I don’t do layby. If you layby, you do more trips to the store to do your payment. Not energy efficient thing to do. =p

                So if I win, I will buy the vacuum (and my secret purchase) in one go to save on gas and energy. =)

                • BobinOz August 31, 2012, 12:19 am | Link

                  That’s a very good energy-saving point. I think the judges will look very favourably on this, even though it is obvious you going to buy a bag.

                  Oh, and a vacuum.

  • John Vance August 15, 2012, 7:16 pm | Link

    Per capita. Does that include the aluminium smelters, the food we produce for other countries etc? Statistics can be deceiving.
    I suspect the numbers have been enhanced to suit the chicken Little’s and others who benefit from the carbon tax and are trying to scare us.
    In the meantime, what sort of vehicle do you drive and should you take public transport instead? Yep those sort of things also add to your carbon footprint, though in the case of some it could be called a paw print!

    • BobinOz August 16, 2012, 12:15 am | Link

      Yes, but what would you do with the money you’d save??

      As for your question, the statement above in the post I would say does include the aluminium smelters and everything else. The statement in my report simply says Queensland has the “highest per capita electricity consumption on the planet”. It’s an interesting statement, but different from the one I found and quoted in the article.

      I know no more than that.

  • Kristyn August 13, 2012, 11:31 am | Link

    I’d use the money to save up to see my family! At least I know the savings will go to a good cause, especially nowadays when they’re getting older and sick.

    • BobinOz August 13, 2012, 2:02 pm | Link

      Good luck in the competition Kristyn, hope you get to see your family soon.

  • Teresa August 6, 2012, 11:33 am | Link

    Hi Bob!
    My partner and I are wildlife carers in the Redlands area. We help rescue and rehabilitate orphaned and injured wildlife, but with that comes a pretty big bill. Between water use for cleaning and electricity needed to run our ‘Animal Fridge’ and incubator/heating of enclosures, the costs are pretty high and I know the effect on the environment could definitely be lessened. By using some of the tips or getting help in finding ways to lower our Carbon Footprint, we’d not only be helping the problem of carbon, but we’d also be saving money that could go towards helping even more wildlife. Roughly 380 animals came through our doors last year, all of which needing special food or baby formula, fresh fruits and veggies, meat and fish, and even fuel for the car to go out and do the rescues and vet runs. Saving some money on the power bill or water usage would definitely help us to continue what we do with the Redlands wildlife.

    • BobinOz August 6, 2012, 3:46 pm | Link

      Highly commendable work you are doing there Teresa, protecting Australia’s wildlife. Good luck!

  • Nicky August 5, 2012, 9:21 am | Link

    Hi Bob,

    I’d use the retro fit money to redo the lighting on our deck – our energy meter tells us it’s really inefficient, so it has to go. I’d then use the money that we’re saving from these tips to buy a lounge set so we can enjoy our deck – and the new lighting!

    Nicky

    • BobinOz August 6, 2012, 3:45 pm | Link

      That’s what’s great about Australia, enjoying the outdoors. Good luck in the competition Nicky!

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