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Selection of place

Describe about the Energy Efficiency Report for Policy Recommendations.

The main purpose of this report is to explore different energy uses at home and measures that can be taken to reduce energy consumption. The report contains different aspects of household energy consumption, including energy uses, energy use products, energy sources, Australian organizations promoting efficient energy use, soft tools used to reduce energy use, opportunities/options to reduce energy use, cost benefit analysis of some of these options, and selection of the best option. Completing this report equips the student with vast knowledge and skills on how energy is consumed at home and what can be done to reduce the amount of energy consumed.   

The selected place where data for this assignment will be collected is a home. A home is a very familiar place thus making it easier to analyze energy consumption. Every person knows different items or activities that consume energy at home. This is because they use these items or do the activities almost on daily basis. It is therefore easier to analyze energy efficiency at home. Most of the energy at home is used for cooking, heating and cooling, lighting, washing, refrigeration, and running electrical appliances. This report has analyzed all these elements and identified the best ways of reducing total household energy consumption.

Saving energy not only reduces energy bills but also reduces demand for burning fossil fuels, which lowers carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore reducing energy consumption at home is a positive contribution towards fighting climate change (mainly global warming). Energy efficiency also boosts the economy, improves the environment, enhances national security, and improves quality of life. 

There are numerous means by which a home uses energy. These include: lighting or illuminating the spaces; maintaining comfortable room temperature (air conditioning); heating and cooling water; cooking; washing; running and/or charging electrical appliances, such as computers, refrigerators, microwave oven, mobiles, television, iron box, etc. (Commonwealth of Australia, 2008). All these uses are the ones that contribute to the total energy consumed at home.

The amount of energy used and total cost of the energy for various uses at home are as shown in Table 1 below. The total energy consumed at homes largely depends on the efficiency of the equipment or appliance (The National Academy of Sciences, 2016).

Table 1: Estimation of cost of energy used per month

Use and/or appliance

Wattage (W)

Hours used everyday

Days used every month

Monthly energy consumption (kWh)

Utility rate ($ per kWh)

Total cost per month ($)

Microwave oven

1500

4

30

180

0.12

21.6

Plasma TV

300

6

30

54

0.12

6.48

CD player

7

4

30

0.84

0.12

0.10

Router

6

3

30

0.54

0.12

0.06

Water heater

4500

4

30

540

0.12

64.8

Space heater

1320

3.5

30

138.6

0.12

16.63

Iron box

1100

1

15

16.5

0.12

1.98

Dishwasher

330

1

30

9.9

0.12

1.19

Desktop computer

75

3

30

6.75

0.12

0.81

Ceiling fan

35

3

30

3.15

0.12

0.38

Total

950.28 kWh

$114.03

Microwave oven: wattage = [(1500Wx 4 hrs. x 30)/ 1000] x $0.12/kWh = $21.6 

Energy uses

It is important to calculate the total amount of energy used at home because it helps the consumer to know the amount of money being spent on electricity (U.S. Department of Energy, 2016). For example, from the information contained in Table 1 above, the consumer now knows that the biggest consumer of energy at his home is the water heater. This means that finding an alternative water heater that is more efficient will save him a significant amount of money. The consumer can reduce his energy consumption by purchasing the right appliances. This means choosing energy efficient appliances/systems and which suit his needs. This may include going for ENERGY STAR certified appliances.

As discussed by Pipkom (2013), some of the alternatives for various home energy uses are as shown in Table 2 below

Table 2: Energy saving alternatives

Energy use

Alternative

Heating and cooling

Improve rating of house energy by at least 3 stars

Lighting

Replace lighting fixtures with energy efficient lighting such as LCD

Cooking

Increase energy efficiency by use of induction

Water heating

Shift to solar heating water system

Other electrical appliances

Reduce use and improve energy efficiency by at least 3 stars

 

The main source of energy for Australian homes is electricity, which is generated from fossil fuels. This has considerable impacts on the environment. It is estimated that about 99% of Australian homes use electricity, which is usually generated from fossil fuels (Australian Bureau of Statistics2, 2010). Other sources of energy for Australian homes are natural gas, coal, wood and solar. Assuming that 99% of the total household energy consumption is from electricity and the rest is shared equally among other sources. The amount of carbon emissions is as shown in Table 3 below

Table 3: Estimation of carbon emissions in kg

Energy source

% of total energy

Monthly energy consumption in kWh

Carbon emission factor (kg per kWh)

Total carbon in kg

Electricity

99%

940.78

0.527

495.79

Coal

0.25%

2.375

0.510

1.21

Natural gas

0.25%

2.375

0.185

0.44

Wood

0.25%

2.375

0.016

0.04

Solar

0.25%

2.375

Negligible

0

Total

497.48

 The values of carbon emission factors used were those provided by Carbon Independent (2015). Therefore it means that the household generates 497.48 kg of carbon emissions every month. The current population of Australia is about 24.26 million people (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016). The average household size is about 2.6 people per family (Australian Community Profile, 2016). Using these estimates, it means that there are about 9.33 million households. Assuming that 497.48 kg is the average amount of carbon emissions in each Australian households, it means that the total carbon emissions from all households in one month is:

= 9.33 x 106 households x 497.48 kg per household = 4.6415 x 109 kg of carbon emissions.

These are large quantities of carbon emissions per month, considering that they come from households only. The emissions have huge environmental impacts, particularly climate change. Some of the specific impacts include: changing rainfall patterns, elongated warm nights and hot days, reduced snow cover, increased rate of evapotranspiration, increased occurrence of drought, increased fire risks, rising sea level, etc. (Australian Bureau of Statistics1, 2010).    

Energy use products

Australia is one of the countries with the highest per capita carbon emissions (COTAP, 2016). However, total carbon emissions of Australia per GDP unit are relatively low especially in relation to those of other G20 countries (Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Pty Ltd, 2014). Households in the country are said to produce at least 20% of the total greenhouse gases (Australian Greenhouse Calculator, 2016). All these emissions have negative impacts on Australia’s economy, environment, ecosystems and human health. As a result, there are several government and non-government agencies that are making efforts to promote energy efficiency in the country. Some of these include the following:

Australian Energy Storage Council (ESC) – this is an NGO that promotes development of Australia’s energy storage solutions.

Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) – this is an organization established to develop and promote cleaner energy solutions in Australia (Clean Energy Finance Corporation, 2016).

Catholic Earthcare Australia – this is an ecological organization representing Australia’s Catholic Church (Catholic Earthcare Australia, 2016). The organization promotes energy efficiency through national networks, environmental research and education, transformation and advocacy. They have initiatives such as Global Catholic Climate Movement, National Energy Efficiency Network, and ASSISI, through which they create awareness among people on how they can conserve the environment by using energy efficient appliances and methods at their homes and businesses.

Water Corporation, Synergy and Swan River Trust – these are the main public sector sponsors of a program called Great Gardens. They promote energy efficiency by holding workshops to teach people tips on how to reduce water and energy consumption in their household (Public Sector Commission, 2010).

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) – this is an organization that was formed to offer renewable energy solutions that are affordable to the entire Australian population. The organization promotes and finances projects aimed at increasing use of renewable energy and reduction of energy costs (ARENA, 2016).

GreenPower – this is a government sponsored program that helps Australian businesses and households to replace their existing energy consumption with renewable energy (GreenPower, 2011).

There are numerous soft tools that are being used in Australia to reduce energy consumption. These tools are targeting energy consumers in different sectors including domestic, industrial, transport, agricultural, construction, etc. Some of these tools include the following: 

Some of these tools include mandatory energy labels and energy efficiency standards. The Australian government has developed energy efficiency standards that require all energy products (including motor vehicles and electrical appliances) being manufactured in the country or imported from other countries to meet certain energy efficiency standards. This has led to promotion of use of energy-efficient products which targets at reducing overall energy consumption in the country. The government has also made it mandatory for manufacturers to attach energy efficiency rating labels on all energy products. These labels indicate the product’s level of energy consumption. The labels have helped consumers to choose products that consume less energy (OECD, 2008).

Sources of energy

They include public communications campaigns and education. Communications campaigns are used by the government for sharing information with all citizens on how they can reduce energy consumption in their homes. The government also partners with private business owners to conduct countrywide campaigns and give special offers ton energy efficient household products. The focus of Australian Federal Ministry of Education has been to include sustainable consumption education in the curriculum. This will ensure that the whole country understands the benefits of sustainable consumption and knows how to select energy efficient products. Both the government and on-governmental organizations have also been focusing on educating people how to change their lifestyles and embrace modern energy efficiency technologies such as house insulation, building small houses, using sustainable building materials, etc. (Committee on Civil Engineering and Architecture, 2007)

These tools include charges & taxes, and incentives & subsidies. The government plays a role in influencing behaviors of consumers through raising prices on products that are not energy efficient. This has changed purchasing patterns of consumers because they are now choosing energy efficient products, which reduces energy consumption. The government is also using incentives and subsidies to encourage households to use energy efficient products. For example, the government provides financial support to individuals or organizations that are developing or implementing projects aimed at reducing energy consumption in Australia. Such tools include energy efficiency grants offered by Australia’s Department of Industry (Department of Industry, 2016). Households also receive financial incentives and subsidies for energy efficient investments, such as windows, heating systems, insulation, etc.

These include corporate reporting, advertising and public procurement. It has become a legal obligation for companies to include information on energy efficiency in their annual report. The government ensures that the information given is true and promotes energy efficiency. Commercial advertising channels such as radio and television commercials, magazines, flyers and billboards are also being used to promote household energy efficiency. Trade Practices Act 1974 (TPA) and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have established guidelines on how commercial advertising should be done regarding sustainability. The government has also adopted green procurement practices as a way of promoting manufacturing and use of energy efficient domestic appliances, including lighting, dryers and washers, conditioners, ovens and heating systems.

There are multiple ways of reducing household energy consumption. These include: replace devices (such as heating and cooling equipment, electronics and appliances) with energy efficient ones, use of timer switches, programmed switches, manual switching off, off-peak power usage, locate and repair/seal cracks or air leaks, replace inefficient bulbs with more efficient ones (such as compact fluorescents (CFLs), energy-saving incandescent and light emitting diodes (LEDs)), insulate your ceilings and walls, install modern windows (such as double-glazed windows), use of alternative energy. The two options selected for improvement are: purchase energy efficient devices to replace existing ones, and using energy efficient lighting bulbs and/or fixtures. But the first step towards reducing energy consumption at home is to perform an energy audit so as to know how much energy is being consumed (Power Scorecard, 2000).

Australian organizations that promote energy efficiency

i)  Purchasing energy efficient electronics and appliances

This may seem an expensive option but in the long run, it is very economical. Compare different models of devices and check their Energy Star labels so as to understand how much energy you will be saving. It is very important to focus on the long term benefits of these devices instead of the purchasing budget. It is also important to check whether there is any subsidy program or offers for energy-efficient devices. Energy consumption by these devices can also be reduced further by reducing the frequency of using these devices, changing the devices’ settings so that they can consume less energy, and unplugging the devices when not in use.

This should start by analyzing the type and number of lighting systems in the home. All incandescent lighting systems should then be replaced with LED systems, which are energy efficient. The total cost of the system, including purchase price, installation, operation and maintenance costs have to be considered. There are different types of LEDs so it is important to determine the payback period for each LED system and select the one that has the shortest time. Another option is to use a combination of LEDs and CFLs. Generally, LEDs and CFLs are energy efficient and therefore will reduce energy costs. These bulbs are also durable hence they may be a one-time investment that brings endless returns (Ganandran et al., 2014). This is a good option of reducing household energy consumption considering today’s low prices of energy efficient bulbs.

The best option is purchasing energy efficient electronics and appliances. This is because the devices consume a very large amount of total household energy consumption. Adopting this option means that most of the items in the home will consume less energy, which results into significant savings.

References

ARENA. (2016). About ARENA. Retrieved from https://arena.gov.au/about-arena/

Australian Bureau of Statistics1. (2010). Australia’s environment: issues and trends. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/Lookup/4613.0Feature+Article1Jan+2010

Australian Bureau of Statistics2. (2010). Energy in focus: energy use in Australian homes. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/Lookup/4614.0.55.001Main+Features2Mar+2010

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2016). Population clock. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/Web+Pages/Population+Clock?opendocument&ref=HPKI

Australian Greenhouse Calculator. (2016). Households and GHG emissions. Retrieved from https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/AGC/r_emissions.html#/!

Carbon Independent. (2015). Home energy sources. Retrieved from https://www.carbonindependent.org/sources_home_energy.html

Catholic Earthcare Australia. (2016). Introducing Catholic Earthcare Australia. Retrieved from https://catholicearthcare.org.au/

Clean Energy Finance Corporation. (2016). CEFC mission. Retrieved from https://www.cleanenergyfinancecorp.com.au/about-us.aspx

Committee on Civil Engineering and Architecture. (2007). Policy recommendations for reducing energy consumption by the building sector. Tokyo: Science Council of Japan.

COTAP. (2016). Per capita carbon emissions data by country. Retrieved from https://cotap.org/per-capita-carbon-co2-emissions-by-country/

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Pty Ltd. (2014). Emissions metrics: Australia’s carbon footprint in the G20. Melbourne: Deloitte Australia.

Department of Industry. (2016). Grant recipients – energy efficiency information grants program. Retrieved from https://www.industry.gov.au/AboutUs/LegalandLegislativeReporting/Grants/EnergyEfficiency/Pages/EnergyEfficiencyInformation.aspx

Ganandran et al. (2014). Cost-benefit analysis and emission reduction of energy efficient lighting at the Universiti Tenaga Nasional. The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2014, article ID 745894.

GreenPower. (2011). What is GreenPower? Retrieved from https://www.greenpower.gov.au/About-Us/What-Is-GreenPower/#

OECD. (2008). Promoting sustainable consumption – good practices in OECD countries. Paris, France: OECD Publishing.

Pipkom Jodie. (2013). Carbon zero, carbon positive. Retrieved from https://yourhome.gov.au/housing/carbon-zero-carbon-positive

Power Scorecard. (2000). Twenty things you can do to conserve energy. Retrieved from https://www.powerscorecard.org/reduce_energy.cfm

Public Sector Commission. (2010). State government agencies supporting a greener WA. Retrieved from https://intersector.wa.gov.au/article/state-government-agencies-supporting-greener-wa

The Australian Community Profile. (2016). Australia – household size. Retrieved from https://profile.id.com.au/australia/household-size

The Commonwealth of Australia. (2008). Energy use in the Australian residential sector 1986-2020. Canberra: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and Arts.

The National Academy of Sciences. (2016). How we use energy – home &work. Retrieved from https://needtoknow.nas.edu/energy/energy-use/home-work/

U.S. Department of Energy. (2016). Estimating appliance and home electronic energy use. Retrieved from https://energy.gov/energysaver/estimating-appliance-and-home-electronic-energy-use

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