This March marks the 10th anniversary of Earth Hour, a global initiative for raising awareness on climate change and ways to combat it. While progress has been slow, climate-friendly living has never been easier and more cost-effective now with low-carbon home solutions on our doorstep.
Better yet, these cheaper technologies today also mean bigger dollar savings for people doing the right thing: "The beauty is that the desire for low bills and low environmental impact now lead to the same answer - energy efficiency and solar," says Damien Moyse, Energy Projects and Policy Manager at the Alternative Technology Association.
There is still huge potential to grab these benefits locally, since our homes are getting more energy-hungry. Electricity demand in our area climbed last year, according to recent Ausgrid data. Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs also has one of the lowest uptakes of rooftop solar power compared to other regions nationally.
So as Earth Hour asks populations worldwide to ‘switch off’, consider switching to these alternatives to shrink your carbon footprint and boost your bank balance over the long-term. Let’s make that second nature!
1. LED lighting
Skim up to 10 per cent off your energy bills by simply replacing old halogen and incandescent lighting with LEDs. Lasting 20 times longer with quality products available everywhere at cheap prices, LEDs also mean less maintenance costs (and headaches).
2. Efficient heating and cooling
Heat your home with reverse-cycle air conditioning. They have far cheaper running costs and lower emissions compared to portable electric heaters or ducted gas, according to energy efficiency expert and senior industry fellow at RMIT University, Alan Pears. For cost-effective cooling, Pears recommends 16 watt fans compared to average 50 watt and old 100 watt models.
3. Induction cooking
Move over gas; induction cooking is fast becoming the greener and more convenient option in the kitchen, with affordable models making their way into the market. They release much less heat making for a more efficient and comfortable cooking experience. Plus they are super sleek and easy to clean.
4. Heat pump hot water systems
Heat pump hot water systems use around one-third the energy of an electric water heater and work more effectively in winter than traditional solar hot water systems. These clever units absorb heat from the air and transfer it to heat water, cutting your emissions and bills.
5. Solar power and batteries
With costs of rooftop solar dropping 80 per cent over the last decade, you can make your own green energy and start pocketing the savings in as little as five years. And as battery storage costs fall fast, future-proofing your home against fossil fuel prices will soon be easier than ever.
6. Electric vehicles
An electric bike could be your ticket to pollution-free (and puff-free) travel, especially in our hilly ‘burbs. For drivers amongst us, electric cars take the cake with half the running costs of petrol (and a fraction of the emissions). They’ll also soon be easy to charge at key local hotspots, with public charging stations planned for our area.
- Check online for energy-saving tips at home.
- Attend free solar/battery storage talk (Saturday 25 March 2017)
As first published in The Beast magazine.