How You Can Help
There are many ways each of us can personally help the environment and slow climate change. Most of them come with the added bonus of also saving money.
There are numerous steps that can be taken around every home that cost nothing; they instead require slight changes in behaviour.
- Turn electrical items off at the power point when they are not in use.
- Unplug the second fridge when it is not needed.
- In summer:
- Use fans instead of air conditioners.
- Close the windows, curtains and blinds during the day to keep direct sunlight out and then open them at night to let the cool breeze in.
- If using air conditioners, set the temperature as high as possible and keep doors and windows closed and well-sealed. Only cool rooms that are being used - keeping the garage, laundry, or an empty bedroom cool just wastes energy.
- In winter:
- Use a reverse cycle air conditioner instead of plug-in electric heaters as they are far more efficient. Only heat rooms that are being used. Heating unused rooms wastes energy.
- Open the curtains and blinds during the day to let the heat in, then close them in the evening to keep the heat in.
- Use the washing line instead of a clothes dryer (each load in a clothes dryer costs around 90 cents in electricity). If it's raining outside, a pedestal fan or ceiling fan can be used to dry clothes.
- Turn off the TV when it is not being watched.
- Only use the dishwasher when it's full.
- Set energy saving measures on all computers.
With electricity prices rising (Tariff 11 rose by 15% in 2009 and by 13% in 2010, and by 6.6.% in 2011), investing a little on energy efficiency now can reap financial rewards into the future.
- Apply reflective films to windows and shade the house with awnings or vegetation to reduce cooling costs.
- Install ceiling insulation.
- Install open plan room dividers, such as sliding screens, to help minimise the heated or cooled area.
- Choose energy efficient appliances when upgrading.
- Use solar powered lights, if needing to light the garden.
- Install a solar PV system.
- Replace a mains electric hot water system with a solar hot water or heat pump system.
- Replace inefficient lighting with more energy efficient options (see below)
Solar PV (photovoltaic, or solar power) systems allow householders to produce their own clean renewable electricity. PV systems are eligible for Small-Scale Technology Certificates (STCs), a Federal Government incentive. Thousands of dollars worth of STCs are currently available, even on small PV systems. By installing PV you can also take advantage of the State Government's Solar Bonus Scheme which allows all the surplus electricity produced by a PV system to be sold into the grid at 8 cents per kWh. Read the Clean Energy Council Consumer Guide to PV before buying.
A number of Logan based companies sell and install both solar PV and solar hot water systems. They are available to provide advice and quotes to residents and businesses alike.
- Australian Solar - Phone: 07 3133 3894
- DPR Network - Phone: 07 3800 9939
- Hembrows - Phone: 1300 302 064
- Todd's Plumbing and Electrical - Phone: 07 3340 0522
- Microsolar - Phone: 0427 062 310
- Nu Energy - Phone: 1300 768 225
- Solar Wise - Phone: 1800 805 287
- Sun-Ray - Phone: 07 3806 3121 (solar hot water only)
Over 20,000 Logan properties now have a Solar PV system installed.
Please note: The list is provided simply for information. It is up to readers to choose a supplier that meets their price and needs. Council does not endorse particular products or corporate bona fides. Council is not responsible for contractual disputes between suppliers and their clients.
Hot water savings
About 25-30% of the average home's electricity bill is due to water heating when a standard electric hot water system is used. It is therefore worth either managing hot water use as effectively as possible, or replacing the old mains system with a more efficient system.
Solar flat panel, solar evacuated tube, and heat pump hot water systems are all significantly more efficient than a standard electric system. Upgrading now will allow you to take advantage of approximately $750 in Federal STCs. The Federal hot water rebate ended on February 29th 2012 and the State hot water rebate ended on June 27th 2012. Nevertheless, such systems can save your household hundreds of dollars per year in electricity costs.
If you can't afford to upgrade yet, instead ensure your existing hot water system operates as efficiently as possible.
- Install water saver shower heads.
- Have an electrician check the thermostat setting on the hot water system. If it's over 65°C, get it turned down to just above 60°C.
- Use only cold water in your washing machine.
- Fix dripping hot water taps as soon as possible.
- Rinse dishes prior to putting them in the dishwasher with cold water only.
- Use the dishwasher rather than washing up by hand, but make sure it's full before running it.
- Have short showers.
- Connect your hot water system to an off peak tariff. Energex are currently offering a $100 incentive to help cover the cost of taking this step.
At home, probably the smartest two things in regard to lighting you can do are:
- Remember to turn off lights when you don't need them.
- Change over to more energy efficient lighting technologies such as compact flourescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diode (LED)lights. LED lights last much longer and use much less energy than incandescent globes or even CFLs. While still rather expensive, LED prices are coming down steadily.
The latest energy efficient pool pumps use up to 80% less electricity. Connecting to an off-peak tariff could cut a system's electricity costs by 40%. Either step should save a pool owner at least $200 a year in electricity costs. Speak with a local pool retailer for more advice. The noise impact of connecting to an off-peak tariff (and therefore running the pump through the night) on your neighbours should be carefully considered before taking this step.
Other steps such as installing a pool cover, or a solar pool heating system could also be discussed with a local pool retailer.
It can be difficult to know if you are on a good electricity deal or not, with so many retailers and so many deals and contracts available. There are several electricity comparison websites which allow a quick comparison of the deal you are currently on with all others available to Logan residents. They also offer an easy method of purchasing a deal that comes with a proportion of Green Power. Simply do an internet search on 'electricity price comparison' to find these sites.
Walking, skating, riding a bicycle or even riding a motorcycle or bus will all result in considerably less carbon dioxide emissions than driving a passenger vehicle.
If a passenger vehicle must be used, be mindful of how you drive and how you manage your vehicle, as this has a big impact on how much fuel your car uses. By doing the following, you will use less petrol:
- Drive smoothly to minimise acceleration and braking.
- Minimise idling.
- Minimise drag by removing additional items such as roof racks, bike racks, bull bars, and flags.
- Travel light by removing needless heavy items.
- Look after your car and your tyres by regularly checking that the tyres are all at the same and correct pressure, and that they are properly aligned.
- Choose a fuel efficient car. Compare vehicles using the Green Vehicle Guide.
It is possible to offset vehicle emissions through organisations that specialise in this service, such as the not-for-profit Greenfleet.
To reduce mains water consumption and associated costs, there are a range of measures you can employ.
- Limit shower length to four minutes.
- Install a water saver showerhead.
- Install a hot water recirculating valve where unused water in the hot water pipe is returned to the hot water system.
- Install a pool cover to reduce evaporation.
- If upgrading, choose a water and energy efficient dishwasher and washing machine.
- Install a rainwater tank or grey water treatment system.
- Fix water leaks as soon as possible.
There are lots of other little things everyone can do to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Plant trees. Free trees are available through Council's Free Trees initiative and Council's Land For Wildlife program.
- Offset air travel emissions when buying plane tickets.
- Grow your own fruit and vegetables.
- Start a compost bin or worm farm.
- Recycle waste where possible and choose products made from recycled materials.
- Come to the Logan Eco Action Festival (LEAF) in June.
- For tips on how to build or renovate a house to make it more sustainable, liveable and cheaper to live in, visit the Federal Government's Your Home website.
- Make your townhouse more sustainable. Body corporate by-laws and covenants can no longer ban certain sustainability installations such as solar panels.
- Do one thing at a time - just pick a few steps that you feel comfortable with and focus on those for the time being.
For more tips and advice, pick up a free 'DIY Sustainability in Logan' booklet from any Logan Library or Customer Service Centre.