19 Jun Behaviour, Energy Efficiency and You
This article is written by Rodney Lunt.
Rodney Lunt is a veteran of the residential and commercial energy efficiency market, Director of SolAqua Solutions – a proud Wholesale supplier to AK Gas and Plumbing and also Managing Director of Money On The Table Business Solutions.
Have you looked at your electricity bill lately? If you haven’t got Solar Power (PV – Photovoltaics), it’s probably a bit sad looking right? On top of that, if you have an electric hot water system (like a majority of Queensland homes) you would note that a significant chunk of that usage is your hot water system.
I’d like to discuss energy efficiency with you, and your family. I’d like to address your behaviour. Really.
About 8 years ago I had just set up a second retail outlet for an environmental business I worked for, where we did everything from selling handmade recycled paper gift cards, sold LED lighting before it was cool and also sold Solar Power and Solar Hot Water.
A couple walked in, with electricity bill in hand and wanted to inquire about solar power. I looked at their usage and it was extremely high for just two adults living in a residential property. It was a while ago, so forgive me if I don’t recall the exact numbers!
I had been working for the company for quite a while and had been involved in energy auditing, so I knew the usual culprits and the questioning began:
Rodney: “How many halogen downlights do you have?”
Rodney: “What about an old fridge?” (The old rusty clunker in the garage can use astonishing amounts of power!)
Rodney: “Electronics? How old are your white goods? Electric hot water? Computers on all the time?”
Rodney: “Do you have a pool?” (Pool pumps use a lot of power if they aren’t multi-speed)
Couple: “Uh, no, but we have a spa.”
Once I had delved a bit deeper into their usage of the spa (hardly ever), and the specifications (wattages etc), I had calculated that the spa was costing them about $350 per quarter to keep hot. No eco-mode, no multi-speed pumps, just an electric spa heated to temp all day, every day.
Rodney: “Well, you could just turn it off and save more off your bill than putting PV on will.”
That was when the wife got a touch aggressive and essentially communicated that it would be embarrassing if the neighbours saw that they had turned the spa off to ‘save money’.
I’d tried a number of different approaches, not to mention pointing out that they had asked me to help them get their electricity bill down, and I’d provided them with a no-cost solution that would have made a significant impact on their bill. The wife could not be convinced, by myself or her husband.
I provided them with a quote for Solar PV and let it go. The husband dropped into the shop a few days later and apologised, and conceded that his wife couldn’t be talked around due to needing to ‘keep up with the Joneses’.
So what’s the point here Rod? What’s this got to do with me?
I’m glad you asked.
The above story demonstrates how behaviour plays a considerable part of your energy usage. If you want to leave the lights on all day and night, that’s fine. If you want your electric spa that doesn’t have efficient pumps to be heated all day every day, that’s ok too. If you want to keep a 6 pack of VB in that old clunker fridge in the garage that’s otherwise empty (true story by the way), then go for it!
But here’s the deal. It will cost you. If you’re ok with that, then great, if not, then be prepared to change your behaviours in your home to become more energy efficient.
In my experience, a regular family can cut as much as 25% off their energy usage just by behaviour changes alone. You can save even more if you’re willing to invest in things like energy efficient lighting (Lighting generally makes up around 12.5% of a buildings energy usage), PV and of course Solar Hot Water.
Energy efficiency is a holistic exercise, and no one thing is a ‘magic bullet’ although some things are more impactful than others.
Solar Hot Water is one item in your energy makeup that can actually save you significant amounts of energy and provide a “payback” or Return On Investment (ROI).
If you need to replace your current hot water system, and you replace it with another electric system, there is no ‘payback’. If you replace your gas system with a gas system, there is no ‘payback’. If you replace either with a Solar Hot Water system, you can calculate a positive payback on the system, with ROI generally being 3-5 years dependent on your personal situation.
The most efficient systems on the market are Evacuated Tube systems, such as Apricus Australia, which are scientifically proven to outperform flat panel systems.
In saying that, any quality Solar Hot Water system will provide a payback over a gas or electric system. In fact, my gas bill in Victoria more than doubled in 3 years (2014-2017), which is only going to continue as the gas market export mismanagement continue to create artificial scarcity in our domestic market, pushing prices up. The continuing rises in electricity and gas prices makes Solar Hot Water more attractive than ever!
AK Gas and Plumbing can quote and install an appropriate system for your needs, with the best quality system and best possible ROI, so contact them today!