At Adam’s Garden we understand that Australian families households are responsible for a significant proportion of the resources we consume each year in NSW. As a result, the decisions we make about sustainability in the home can make a real difference to our environmental impacts around the state.
- Australians are among the highest water users in the world. Household water use accounts for 70% of Sydney’s total water consumption.
- Nationwide, households are the second largest user of mains water after agriculture.
- Australians are the second highest waste producers in the world. We throw away 3.3 million tonnes of food a year – the equivalent of a quarter of the nations food supply.
- The average Australian household also spends $1500 on energy bills each year. 90% of that energy comes from fossil fuels such as coal, which creates greenhouse gas pollution and causes global warming and climate change.
- One kilowatt-hour (1 kWh) is the electrical energy used by leaving a 40 watt bulb on for 24 hours.
- The chemical energy in the food we eat to stay alive amounts to about 3 kWh per day. Taking one hot bath uses about 5 kWh of heat. Driving an average car 50 kilometres uses 40 kWh of fuel.
- In total, our uses about 125 kWh per day per person for transport,heating/air-conditioning, manufacturing, and electricity.
It has been estimated that the cost of transport of a $2 supermarket lettuce head is around 80 cents. In comparison, the energy cost of walking (less than 2 calories) with just-picked lettuce from your kitchen garden bed 10 metres away is likely to be less than one ten hundredth of a percent of the supermarket transport cost.(1 kW =238.9 calories.)
So: how can we power a modern lifestyle without fossil fuels? What can we do to reduce our footprint? Here are two simple individual actions. One is useless, one is very effective.
Turning phone chargers off when they are not in use is a feeble gesture, like bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon.
In contrast, turning the heater down and putting on a jumper (or turning the air-conditioning down and drinking more water in summer) is the single most effective energy-saving technology available to a typical person.
Every degree you turn the heating/cooling appliance down will reduce your energy costs by 10%; and, air-conditioning/ heating is likely to be the biggest form of energy consumption in most buildings.
But individual actions saving fossil fuel generated energy here or there will not get us off fossil fuels. To eliminate fossil fuel use, we will surely also need to increase the amount of energy we get from non-fossil-fuel sources. Roof-mounted solar water heaters are a no-brainer. They really work: even where the sunniness is only about 30%, a modest 3-square-metre panel can supply a typical family’s hot water.
Even if we imagine strong efficiency measures and smart technology switches, halving our energy consumption from 125 kWh per day per person to 60 kWh per day, we should not kid ourselves about the scale of the energy challenge which would remain.
Replacing our hot water systems can reduce average family energy consumption by up to 30%. It is expected that very soon the same technology will be employed to drive air-conditioning units(usually operating when solar hot water units have turned themselves off).
By then installing solar panel to generate electrical energy it is possible for the average Australian family to significantly reduce its carbon footprint, instead of tinkering at the edge of energy conservation.