How to reduce your energy bill

For a typical large house upgrading to energy efficient light bulbs can save around $130 a year.

Switching to energy efficient showerheads and minimising shower time to 3 minutes can save around $230 a year.

Upgrading to a solar hot water system can save around $650 a year.

Switching to solar panels can deliver significant savings and substantial cuts in emissions. Installing a 2kW system could save around $470 a year in New South Wales and reduce emissions from energy use by around 23 per cent.

Ensuring good roof insulation will substantially reduce heating costs in winter, and cooling costs in summers.

Planting deciduous trees on the north side of the house will provide shade in the summer but let in sunlight in the winter. Wisteria around a north-facing balcony provides excellent summer shade.

Riding a bicycle to work three times a week will halve your fuel bill (and your waist).

Household energy efficiency alone is not enough to dramatically start reducing Australia?s emissions, but when combined with a price on carbon and a renewable energy target, we are seeing the start of a transformation in Australia.

News this week is that that Energy Australia will be shutting one of its four generators at the 1450 MW Yallourn power station. The decision will see around 360 MW of capacity sidelined.

The Energy Australia decision follows similar announcements at several coal-fired power plants across the country, with coal-fired power being sidelined in Australia?s four biggest states this year. Other plants to completely or partially shut down include Tarong (Qld), Munmorah (NSW), Energy Brix (Vic), Playford (SA) and Northern (SA).

All too slowly, pollution intensive electricity generation from the last century is being replaced by employment intensive clean energy of the 21st century.

The energy transformation has begun in Australia, and despite all the scaremongering, the lights are still on.
Matthew Nott

Sea Level

The Australian Baseline Sea Level Monitoring Project involves maintenance of an array of SEAFRAME (SEA-level Fine Resolution Acoustic Measuring Equipment) stations, which measure sea-level accurately. There are 14 stations in Australia supported by the National Tidal Centre (NTC) as well as 2 stations run by the private sector. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is involved with three of the standard stations. The CSIRO’s Division of Marine Research and the TOPEX/POSEIDON satellite altimetry experiment supported the installation of the gauge at Burnie.

Sea level rise results for the 16 SEAFRAME stations in Australia, which were all installed in the early 90’s are: Cocos Island 7.2mm/yr, Groote Eyland 6.6mm/yr, Darwin 7.1mm/yr, Broome 7.9mm/yr, Hillarys 8.0mm/yr, Esperance 4.5mm/yr, Thevenard 3.5mm/yr, Port Stanvac 4.6mm/yr, Portland 2.8mm/yr, Lorne 1.7mm/yr, Stony Point 1.7mm/yr, Burnie 1.7mm/yr, Spring Bay 3.5mm/yr, Port Kembla 1.8mm/yr, Rosslyn Bay 1.3mm/yr, Cape ferguson 2.5mm/yr.

So according to the Australian Baseline Sea Level Monitoring Project, sea level around the Australian coast has been rising since the early 90’s at a rate of between 1.7mm and 8.0mm per year.

According to NASA, historical sea level data derived from coastal tide gauge records from 1870 to 2000 demonstrate a sea level rise of 1.7mm per year. Average sea level since 1993 derived from NASA’s global satellite measurements has been 3.17mm per year, so there is evidence to suggest that sea-level rise is accelerating.

In the local media several people have recently cast doubt on the fact that sea level is rising at all.

Bill Johnson in his letter to editor last week quotes the Eden Tide Gauge as showing “nil, zilch, zero” sea level rise and feels that the CSIRO is holding a “dishonest marketing campaign, using models to turn science into well-marketed political weapons.”

Interestingly, the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL), based in Liverpool at the National Oceanography Centre states that “metric records (from gauge stations such as Eden) should NEVER be used (their emphasis) for time series analysis or for the computation of secular trends. Without datum continuity their only use is in studies of the seasonal cycle of mean sea level.”

Bill Johnson has used unreliable information to back up his claim of zilch sea-level rise, and has written off reliable CSIRO information as being part of some sort of scientific conspiracy.

Our local member Mr Andrew Constance has also turned his back on the science of sea-level rise, which he describes as “very questionable”. Instead, he prefers to quote anecdotal evidence from oyster farmers who he says “held the strong view that there hasn’t been the change.”

How on earth could an oyster farmer be expected to note a sea level rise of several millimeters per year from personal observation. Therein lies the problem. At a local level climate change creates changes that are imperceptible to personal observation. On a global level, a sea level rise of 3.17mm per year represents a massive change. That is why we need to trust what the science is telling us.

Mr Constance’s attitude towards the science of sea-level rise is extremely disappointing.
Matthew Nott

ACT moves into the 21st Century

This month the ACT government has announced a detailed action plan to move the ACT to 90% renewable energy by 2020.

This new plan will see the ACT undertake a comprehensive program to cut energy usage, install solar panels on roofs across the territory, develop new big solar PV plants and get power from large scale local wind projects. This plan is a victory for everyone who wants to see Australia move to a renewable energy future – and shows that way more ambition in setting renewable energy targets is possible when the vision from our political leaders is there.

If re-elected next month, ACT Labor says it would commit the territory to a climate change action plan that would see the city powered mostly by solar, wind and ”biomass” produced energy with vast solar and wind farms dotted around the region.

The plan contains 18 actions, across the residential, commercial, waste, transport, generation and planning sectors, aimed at cutting energy use and household power bills and taking Canberra’s mix of renewables from less than 10 per cent today to more than 90 per cent by 2020. But conscious of the political sensitivity to power bills, the first five years of the plan concentrates on tackling the ”low hanging fruit” of cutting the city’s energy use before moving into large-scale renewables

The plan also counts on a radical shift in commuter behaviour in Canberra, setting a goal of 30 per cent of journeys around the city to be taken on public transport within eight years .

Environment Minister Simon Corbell says the goals can be achieved while keeping electricity bills under control.

What a difference a state border makes!
Matthew Nott