Picture of cherry blossoms

Day 15 – energy challenge – carbon neutral friendly options

Picture of cherry blossomsOne of my blog readers asked me to examine the issue of carbon neutral friendly options as part of the energy savings challenge.  So here it is – a blog post that examines this issue.

Most energy providers will offer an incentive for customers who wish to offset their energy usage with more green energy options.  ActewAGL, for example, offers Greenchoice.  Programs such as this are available at an additional charge, that is you pay extra to allow energy companies such as ActewAGL to buy more electricity from renewable sources.

Even without purchasing something like Greenchoice, a certain percentage of the energy that you use in your home will have been generated by renewable energy.  It differs in different locations, but most states and territories have a commitment to increasing green energy.

But there is an important thing here you need to know – just because you sign up for more renewable energy, does not mean the electricity provided to your home is automatically ‘green’.  This is because, unless you generate your own electricity in your home through something like solar energy, the energy that comes to your house travels via common infrastructure. In east coast of Australia, this is the National Energy Market (NEM).  There is no way of streaming out coal-fired energy from green energy in the way that power is distributed to your house.  In the ACT, when you turn on your heater a large proportion will come from coal-fired generators in New South Wales.  This may or may not be a bad thing depending on your view (not something I want to debate here).  But it is a bit like flying on an aeroplane and then buying a green offset – they will plant trees elsewhere to help offset your travel.

My personal view is that there is already a lot of subsidies given to encourage renewable energy – BAEconomics estimates it was at least $3 billion in Australia in 2015/16.  For renewable energy to be a viable option, it needs to be cost effective and propping it up by paying extra as a consumer is not a long term solution.

But by all means, do what you think is right in terms of your budget and your personal convictions.  It is an individual choice.  But I do believe that if you follow this energy challenge and reduce your energy usage, you are automatically going to reduce emissions.

Last year, I participated in the ACT Government’s carbon challenge with my eldest son.  What amazed me was how many items in the challenge were things that were frugal.  Let’s just say my son blitzed the challenge and came out top in his school.  And we had lots of fun doing it together.  Some of the things we did that will also reduce your energy bill include setting your heater to only 20C (or less) and avoiding the clothes dryer by pegging out laundry.

Don’t forget with emissions that electricity is not the only thing that creates them.  Petrol is a huge contributor, as is methane from cows.  So the more you reduce your consumption in general, the more it will help reduce emissions.  Things like meat free Mondays and cycling rather than driving all make a difference to the environment.

What energy savings things can you do in your home that will also help the environment?  Today I challenge you to implement one habit change that is good for your wallet and good for the environment.






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