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Power to the People

By Joy Grinham, WATCH (Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health)

Rising energy costs have hit the headlines.  Much of the present increase in electricity is due to “wires & poles” investment, and it is clear that the use of fossil fuels will become more expensive in future.   

 It is a good time to take stock, and choose behaviours to lessen reliance on such expensive energy. 

If you have been paying attention to sustainability issues, climate change, and energy use, there has been ample opportunity to ‘future proof’ your budget.  Governments over the last decade have given away millions of dollars in rebates to assist taxpayers, replacing energy-hungry appliances, water-minimising technology using tanks, and installing PV panels for solar energy.  Such incentives can be considered to be ad hoc in that it is not a whole of our society approach, but the fact remains they will continue to reduce costs as alternate technologies develop further.

A little forethought in planning when building can add value to the future.  Passive Solar design principles (i.e. orientation and thermal mass) can build winter warmth AND summer shade into the home.  In existing buildings, plantings of deciduous trees can provide air conditioning to temper heat gain from fierce northern and western sun and yet allow winter warmth when the leaves fall. 

A report released July 31 by Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) states “Australia’s energy future is likely to be very different to the present”, calling for transformational changes as renewable and alternative sources of energy alter the way energy is distributed, and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.   Fossil fuel costs will increase, and at the same time it will become much cheaper to invest in solar technology.

Look at the north aspect of where you live:  you may shift some activities to use the daytime warmth during winter, or decide to install a pergola to add summer coolness.  Going for a walk in the winter sunshine will warm you up with added health benefits and reduction of heating costs.  Changing patterns of living and using warmer clothing are just two ways to reduce energy expense.  And by reducing our spending on daily expenses we can invest in long term solutions.

If you have not yet made some of these changes, it’s not too late.   The sun is still shining and will continue to do so.