With a price on carbon just around the corner and the inevitable increase in energy costs that this will bring, households and policymakers are seeking ways to improve energy efficiency.
New research by the independent energy experts at Energeia has found a win-win approach capable of cost effectively lowering household energy consumption by nearly 50%.
“There are big gains to be made in major appliances and electronic equipment,” said Energeia’s Managing Director Ezra Beeman.
Appliances and electronic devices account for around one-third of residential energy consumption and are the fastest growing source of new energy demand in most Australian states.
“We don’t need to aim for the highest stars,” said Mr Beeman. “Our analysis shows that, to unlock substantial energy and financial savings, we need to shift the average energy-efficiency rating of household appliances by just one star.”
Energeia’s latest strategic research report, Off-Target: Australia’s Residential Energy Efficiency Market to 2020, shows that it can make economic sense to choose more energy-efficient products.
The report includes a comprehensive and independent assessment of more than 100 products and services: energy audits, insulation, glazing, hot water, space heating and cooling, standby killers, in-house displays, major whitegoods, pool pumps and electronics.
“Although Australia’s overall energy efficiency policy and regulatory framework is consistent with, and in some respects leads, international best practice, our analysis has identified significant gaps,” said Mr Beeman.
‘White certificate’ schemes are an effective way to deliver energy efficiency gains to households when they direct consumers to the most cost-effective products. However, under current schemes in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, energy efficiency certificates are restricted to only the most efficient (and usually the most expensive) appliances, which misses a substantial opportunity to shift the majority of households from less efficient to more efficient appliances. Energeia estimates that this is equivalent to foregoing some 1.8 million tonnes of annual carbon dioxide abatement.
“With a well-designed certificate scheme for appliances; greater (safe) use of insulation, and uptake of emerging technologies, such as voltage regulators, we believe the national target of a 30% improvement in primary energy intensity between 2010 and 2020 is achievable in a cost-effective way,” said Mr Beeman.
Energeia’s detailed analysis of household behaviour, appliance and equipment technology, and energy markets shows how.
“Australia’s national goal is in contrast to the existing patchwork of state-based schemes,” said Mr Beeman. “Victoria’s target appears to be too high and not sustainable, while the other states have either a much lower target or, as in case of Queensland, no target at all.
“We therefore expect adjustments in all jurisdictions – for Victoria to revise its targets before 2013 and the other states to come into line with the national target by 2015.
“The right mix of incentives would get households back on target to save energy without blowing their budgets, and that would make everybody a star.”
Energeia is a Sydney based company providing independent research and advisory services to organisations focused on the natural gas and electricity industries.
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