Environmental sustainability, global warming, renewable energy are all terms thrown around in our day and age! But what do they actually all mean for us in terms of our lifestyle choices and way of living when it comes to considering your first, second, third home or possibly a property investment. As a consumer of energy I consider what are the alternative options to reduce my energy bills??? Especially with the deregulated SA energy market and rising electricity and gas costs!!
First the building and trade industry is evolving their techniques to minimize costs and impact on the surrounding environment when constructing new buildings with the materials they use, designs and implementation. It is important to know that in September 2010 there was an amendment to the Development Act 1993 stating that all new homes and extensions built in South Australia needed to achieve a 6-star level energy efficiency rating.
The changes are significantly prevalent for SA since improvements on appropriate insulation and sealing mitigate typical heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. The amount of energy loss is astounding as shown from the diagrams below:
Solar energy is a hot topic as well when considering alternative ways of generating electricity in the home. The government subsidies and rebates along with retail rebates have literally dried up! The only incentive after buying a $7 - 10,000 5kW solar system is the possibility of a 6 – 8 c/kwh rebate on what you export into the grid, if you’re lucky. So what are the options? Well not all is lost for those homes that use their electricity mostly during the day. The reason being is you can utilise your solar generation in real time. This is a much better option than paying 26 c/kwh electricity rates or receiving a 6 – 8 c/kwh rebate for exporting to the grid.
Further to that, there are up and coming solutions with solar storage. The current options are off-grid battery banks or a smart programmable-hybrid approach of both battery and grid connection.
The off-grid system, as termed, is purely utilising the solar in real time and the batteries when the system is not generating power from the sun. On the other hand, the programmable system maximises energy efficiency and return by utilising the solar system and batteries when electricity is at peak rates and grid vice versa. I recommend all viewers to check out this TED talk on new battery developments https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sddb0Khx0yA, it’s definitely an eye opener on the future of self-sustaining electricity generation in the home.
An example of a solar storage system is shown below:
A quote that comes to mind is by Buckminster Fuller, “The Best way to PREDICT the FUTURE is to DESIGN IT”. If each person played a part in designing a sustainable and ecologically friendly home, then it’s a small step and investment in the right direction for future generations to come
Stay tune for more in October’s blog as we delve into the world of wind power and recycled building materials.