Cut Your Electricity Bill and Help Stop Climate Change

Part of the NSW Greens Climate Change and Energy Policy is to "reduce total energy consumption by 10% by 2011 and by 15% by 2015 using mandatory energy efficiency standards".


We asked Ryan McCarthy, co-founder of Steplight Pty Ltd, which assists households and small businesses in reducing their ecological footprint especially electricity usage, for his advice on the matter and this is what he told us:

Imagine if your grocery shop had no prices marked on the shelves and they simply billed you with a lump-sum statement every quarter. Yet, this is how most households and businesses pay for their electricity consumption. Using Power Meters can help you gain control and cut your power bill.

If you’re the one that pays the power bills, I bet you can tell me (roughly) the dollar amount of those bills. But do you know how many kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity or megajoules (MJ) of gas you use? And how much each of your appliances are contributing and at what time?

Most people cannot answer the first question, and only those with some form of energy monitoring in place can answer the second.

Simply owning a power meter doesn’t do much for your energy usage! What these actions can do well is motivate change by improving your understanding of how you are using energy.

In fact, many studies show how much can be saved as a result of this ‘informational gain’. A comprehensive literature review by the University of Oxford states:

"The norm is for savings from direct feedback (immediate, from the meter or an associated display monitor) to range from 5-15%… There is some indication that high energy users may respond more than low users to direct feedback" - The Effectiveness of Feedback on Energy Consumption (pdf)

Some studies have shown that these monitors will help you save 40% of your usage. It all depends on how you turn the information into action.

Anecdotally, we are getting great feedback from users. Everyone seems to find their own way of using these devices and uncovering previously unknown loads. As one resident from our recent Northwest Sydney Energy Efficiency Program said "We enjoy using the energy monitor, it has confirmed our current energy efficient practices and helped us find some other areas to reduce energy".

Other comments included:

We found out the heat pump wasn’t working properly and had it repaired. The whole family checks the energy monitor to see what needs turning off. – Resident, Castle Hill

The beer fridge is getting the sack. – Resident, Rouse Hill

The monitor has taught me that our air conditioner uses power in standby. – Resident, Seven Hills

We now turn off all the power points. It’s amazing. – Resident, Stanhope Gardens

We have now changed all our lighting to energy saver globes. The kids are also checking their energy use and turning everything off before they go to bed. – Resident, Baulkham Hills

I have been having a great time finding my energy guzzlers and turning them off. – Resident, Baulkham Hills

We’ve started earth hour every day. – Resident, Woodcroft

I check it every morning! – Resident, Oakhurst

NSW Greens Climate Change and Energy Policy

The NSW Greens have vowed to try and reverse the $5.3 billion sale of the state's electricity assets and prevent the future privatisation of state assets.

The Greens will introduce legislation in the next parliament to return the electricity industry to public ownership and stop future governments selling assets without the approval of both houses of parliament, Greens MP John Kaye announced today.
- Sydney Morning Herald (5th Feb 2011)

Australians are the highest per capita producers of greenhouse gas emissions in the world and the biggest exporters of coal. The NSW coal industry is rapidly expanding and consumption of energy is growing dramatically. According to the NSW Minerals Council "89% of the total electricity needs in NSW are met with locally mined thermal coal, while 84% of Australia’s electricity is provided through coal-fired power generation".

The profligate use of fossil fuels is having unacceptable consequences on the global climate, with unpredictable impacts on rainfall, food supply and human health and safety.

The Greens are committed to a rapid transformation of NSW’s energy industry to low emission renewable energy options such as solar and wind power, energy efficiency and conservation measures. The transition away from coal will incur some costs that must be equitably shared but the change will create economic opportunities and large scale employment growth.

The Greens believe that with appropriate policies New South Wales can become a world leader in the development and application of sustainable energy technologies.

We reject nuclear power and so-called “clean coal” options such as carbon capture and storage (geo-sequestration) as dangerous, limited, expensive and high risk technologies that will take too long to be commercially viable options for reducing emissions.

The Greens are committed to:

    • substantial and immediate reductions in NSW’s greenhouse emissions, leading to at least 80% reduction (based on 1990 levels) by 2050;


    • stopping the building of coal fired power stations and the expansion of coal mining, and “just transitions” funding for coal-dependent communities to develop low carbon economies;


    • renewable energy targets of 20% of all energy generated by 2012 and 50% by 2020, and an industry development policy to create large numbers of high quality jobs in NSW;


    • rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions using wind energy, crop wastes and solar heating (including solar hot water) with natural gas as a transition fuel;


    • reduce total energy consumption by 10% by 2011 and by 15% by 2015 using mandatory energy efficiency standards;


    • supporting a distributed electricity industry, including widespread use of rooftop solar panels and increased community-level control; and


    • carbon pricing, preferably as a carbon tax where the polluters pay or, as a second best option, as a well designed carbon trading scheme.


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