Climate action is a pressing environmental and social issue impacting everyone around the globe, but with particularly harsh consequences for developing/impoverished nations. It seems anyone who isn’t puffing up their chest as part of some sort of modern day loyal peasant to the pollution masters can see that the scientists are showing us a pretty grim picture of what’s to come if we do nothing.

So if we agree with the “uneqivocal” finding about human impact by the climate scientists that we should be switching our energy generation away from dirty fossil fuels – then there’s an easy way to do it. Australia already has a national scheme by which you can sign up to get your energy generation from non-dirty generation means.

New energy sources - renewable and not screwing up the climate

New energy sources – renewable and not screwing up the climate

So there’s a simple but significant step that everyone can take: switching at least some of their home electricity supply to greenpower.

What percentage of greenpower?

There are usually a variety of greenpower plans available based on a percentage of your energy sourced from renewable energy sources. Even if it is to switch to just 10 or 20% of your energy is a worthwhile, but I’d suggest aiming higher than the averages to help drive it up quicker. If your household is demanding higher than the state, national or global averages – then it is driving UP the average rather than helping it stay where it is.

Which way do you want to nudge the scale?

Which way do you want to nudge the scale?

 

Currently South Australia is nudging up to 30% and globally renewable energy is at about 16%. Overall Australia is at around 13%.

Of course the ideal is 100%, but based on budget that might not be achievable for everyone, particularly with the Coalition seeking to make pollution free again and to undo the good that the carbon price legislation has done so far (it was on track to achieve a 15% cut to emissions).

What do I do to swap?

It’s as easy as ringing up your current energy provider and saying you want to swap to a greenpower plan of whatever percent you want. Or, in my case, having to ring up twice because AGL didn’t set it up properly when I opened the account.

I’d suggest you try going with the 100% plan for a couple of quarters at least – and try modifying your household habits to offset any difference. Yes, it will cost a little bit more money – time to put a small amount toward the cause and take yourself off the pollution grid – in part or in full.

In terms of the costs: the greenpower site reckons that on an average 7000KWh bill – 100% will be under an extra dollar a day. A 10% plan adds just under a dollar a week.

The estimates for 100% and 10% green plans for an average 7000KWh household - not a great deal of money really is it?

The estimates for 100% and 10% green plans for an average 7000KWh household – not a great deal of money really is it?

What household energy habits can I change?

  • In relation to clothes washing/drying (e.g. use cold water always and hang clothing up to dry rather than using a clothes drier). Don’t do washes with just that one bit of clothing – full loads are better.
This device will save you a tonne of cash by avoiding a dryer.  (source: wikimedia commons, public domain image)

This device will save you a tonne of cash by avoiding a dryer.
(source: wikimedia commons, public domain image)

 

  • Same with your dishwasher – running with a full load and on the economy setting will help keep costs down. Don’t pre-wash items before putting them in the dishwasher – that completely destroys the energy efficiency over scraping the worst of it off and letting the dishwasher do the rest.
  • Dial back your heating in winter or cooling in summer (make your air-con work less by dialling the temperature back a degree or two means each degree Celsius you don’t heat/cool will save you about 10% off your heating/cooling bill – your mum was right when she said to just put on a jumper in winter). Don’t heat rooms you’re not using – block off vents with a bit of cardboard if spare room is not used.
  • turn off things you’re not using: lights, computers, TVs, stereos and so on. Electrical devices are power vampires if given the chance.
  • have shorter showers – heating water is a fairly energy intensive
  • replace any blown globes with LED ones as they need replacing

Conclusion – follow up actions (not slacktions!)

Make the phone-call to your electricity company, ask for 100% greenpower and with a few extra bucks a week you can drive up our renewable energy and vote with your wallet in favour of doing something. Then tell other people about it – your parents, friends and co-workers.. Post on social media to make people aware of it – many people wouldn’t know about it.

As the economies of scale kick in and we stop allowing coal to externalise all the costs: that extra cost will vanish and become a saving. Future generations will of course thank you for doing this.

5 Responses to “Need climate action, not climate slacktion – switch on green power at home as a start”

  1. on 22 Nov 2013 at 14:23Jason

    Nope, never buying Greenpower again.

    Was buying Greenchoice 100% from ACTEWAGL for nearly a decade. Each quarter the printed bill showed my greenhouse gas contribution was 0 tonnes. Each bill came with a pamphlet detailing how my voluntary Greenchoice contribution meant windfarms were being built, offsetting the greenhouse gasses produced by other ACTEWAGL customers.

    Then when the carbon tax came in, ACTEWAGL passed onto the cost to both the Greenchoice and non-Greenchoice customers equally.

    Cancelled my Greenchoice the same week. Will never buy again. E

  2. on 22 Nov 2013 at 14:43Nathan

    That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense: so you decided to support coal because the energy company raised the prices.

    I worried about this one too – I’m pretty sure they all did that. It’s not a reason to ditch it however – that’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    Call the ACCC if you think that’s what they did – I’m going to look into whether AGL passed on that cost as well and hit them up for it. I think I wrote them a letter a while back but don’t think I got a response.

    Given the CO2 price legislation had negligible impact versus the “gold plating” – the price rise was most likely from something else.

  3. on 22 Nov 2013 at 17:34Jason

    “I worried about this one too – I’m pretty sure they all did that. It’s not a reason to ditch it however – that’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

    Disagree. It means it was all a scam by the power companies. The power companies had a green-credit quota to meet, and instead of achieving that quota by using their profits, they fooled a bunch of us into voluntarily paying towards the quota under the guise of “going green”. That meant I subsidised the polluters and the power company was taking my money as extra profit for themselves. I was such a fool.

    There is no value in greenpower. It’s a scam. If you want to help the planet, either go off grid, or directly fund a green initiative. But the greenpower offerings from all those power companies are utter scams.

  4. on 22 Nov 2013 at 17:37Jason

    “Call the ACCC if you think that’s what they did ”

    PS: I did exactly that, as did 1000s of other Canberrans, and the ACCC investigated. They found that ACTEWAGL was allowed to pass on costs in whatever way they saw fit, even though it meant Greenchoice 100% customers who “contributed no carbon” were now obliged to pay for carbon tax anyway.

    Made such a mockery of the entire Greenchoice product.

  5. on 30 Nov 2013 at 07:27Sean

    Don’t buy greenpower, its a scam.

    you pay more, to do absolutely nothing for our power mix.

    Sure, they will acquire the green energy required for your bill. but they HAVE TO BUY 20% ANYWAY to comply with the Renewable energy target law.

    if you want to spend a small portion of your time and money, go pester your government reps for a higher RET. at the moment energy companies are bitching because lots of they also own coal power plants and the renewables are putting them out of business.

    Alternatively convince all your friends to put up a 2kw (or larger, but 2kw should do the job) solar system and remove most of your daytime demand getting 100% green power for less than the cost of electricity during the day.

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