Our global demand for energy remains one of the biggest hurdles in overcoming climate change.
With energy consumption continuing to rapidly increase worldwide, it’s time more than ever to look at ways to reduce our energy usage. The types of energy we use are just as important, with the majority of greenhouse gas emissions coming from energy-related use of fossil fuels. By lowering your energy consumption and taking up greener forms of energy, you can make a difference to one of the biggest environmental issues for our world.
What you can do now
1. Switch to renewable electricity
The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia is from the electricity sector, with about 80% of our electricity estimated to come from burning fossil fuels.
That’s why making the change to renewable electricity sources can have such a big impact. One simple way to do this is through GreenPower, a government accreditation program for renewable energy. This joint initiative of the ACT, NSW, SA and Vic governments lets your electricity provider purchase renewable energy on behalf of your household or business.
Benefits according to GreenPower include:
- offsetting your electricity usage through certified renewable energy, with zero net greenhouse gas emissions
- investing in the development of renewable energy infrastructure through your purchase
- buying from energy suppliers that meet strict environmental standards.
To find the best GreenPower option for you, the Australian Energy Regulator has created an energy price comparison website to compare providers in some Australian states. You can find other energy price comparison information here.
Once you’ve made the choice to switch to GreenPower, you can either phone your electricity company or apply online. You don’t need to change electricity supplier, your meter box or existing electricity contract to get GreenPower. Head to GreenPower’s provider list to find a provider in your state or territory.
2. Look for gas alternatives
More hubs across the energy sector are starting to explore ‘green gas’ options. For example, Origin Energy will offset greenhouse gas emissions from your natural gas usage, via an independently audited Carbon Reduction Scheme.
3. Shake up your everyday habits
It’s the little things that can make a big difference to your overall energy usage and carbon emissions. Simple tips from GreenPower include:
- turn off appliances at the wall when you don’t need them
- wash your clothes using cold water
- air-dry your clothes rather than use an electric dryer
- make sure all appliances like dishwashers and washing machines are full before running
- switch off lights in unoccupied rooms.
Check out EnergySage for more easy ideas.
4. Make your home more energy efficient
Setting your home up to be more energy efficient is not only good for the environment, but the hip pocket too. Tips and advice from GreenPower include:
- buy energy efficient appliances (compare star ratings – the more stars, the lower the running cost)
- install low-energy lighting such as LED or compact fluorescent lights
- put in a solar hot water system when replacing your gas hot water system – government rebates are available for eligible households
- use smart power strips to shut off power to electronics not in use
- figure out where most of your electricity is going with a Home Energy Monitor.
5. Think differently about heating and cooling
Heating and cooling make up nearly half a home’s utility bills and a major portion of its carbon emissions. Here’s some ideas from Choice to cut your reliance on heating and cooling utilities:
- insulate your roof or ceiling
- seal doors and windows properly to prevent draughts
- shut all external windows and doors
- use curtains to block out the summer sun and help keep heat in during winter
- turn on the air conditioner or heater early in the day, to reduce the amount of energy needed to get your house to the ideal temperature
- invest in programmable timer and thermostat controls – each 1% difference on the thermostat will save about 10% on your energy usage
- install ceiling fans, which are much cheaper than air conditioning and kinder to the environment.
6. Go solar
If you’ve got the right house and conditions for it, why not consider going solar? Solar energy is a great option for Australian households, and can help you save both money and the environment. And with solar energy becoming increasingly cheaper, now might be the right time to invest in solar panels for your household. Take a look at Choice’s solar panel reviews to help compare the best options for you.
7. Take action at work
Keep those energy-saving habits happening in the workplace with these simple ideas from GreenPower:
- choose power-saving mode for your computer to use 50% less energy
- hold video or phone conferences instead of flying or driving to meetings
- update lighting with more energy-efficient options
- sign up to CitySwitch – a free program helping office-based businesses improve their energy and waste efficiency.