Can Australia cut emissions by going electric?

But now that we live in a world where renewable energy is readily available and electric technology is becoming more advanced, it is time to reevaluate. For decades, the concepts of sacrifice and scarcity have been central to environmental thought and activity. Every decade, each of us is faced with a handful of significant purchasing choices, and if we make them wisely, we may ensure that our homes produce no carbon emissions while simultaneously lowering our monthly energy expenditures.

How exactly do we go about electrifying everything?

The appliances we use in our homes and the automobiles we drive are responsible for approximately forty percent of Australia’s domestic carbon emissions. Approximately thirty percent comes from enterprises and the operations they run. This covers the utilization of electric power. We have a chance of containing temperature rises to less than 2.0 degrees Celsius if we switch all of our devices that run on fossil fuels to the ones that are powered by electricity. Because of this, we have a fighting chance to rescue coral reefs and glaciers, as well as to assist our children in avoiding dangerous weather.

This does not need an outlay of tens of thousands of dollars on the part of an individual household. If you just purchased a new automobile or water heater within the past year, replacing all of your machines that run on fossil fuels with electric versions immediately would be wasteful, cumbersome, and expensive.

Over the course of the next twenty years, those machines will certainly fail or become obsolete. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any debate until the natural replacement has taken place. Make the switch from the fossil fuel machine to the electric version, which is not only more environmentally friendly but also more efficient and superior, and it will almost certainly save you money.

Although the initial investment required to electrify a building is currently higher, ongoing operating and maintenance expenses are significantly lower, and because we are still in the infancy of this technological revolution, these prices will continue to decrease. An investigation that I carried out in 2021 for the organization Rewiring Australia revealed that, by the year 2030, households in Australia could be saving an average of $5,000 per year if they upgraded to electric versions of fossil fuel-driven vehicles, heating, hot water, and stoves, and powered a significant portion of their energy requirements with rooftop solar panels. Since this report was prepared, the price of fossil fuels like gas, oil, and electricity have all gone up, but the patterns have not changed significantly.

The following is a breakdown of how much energy is consumed by the typical Australian home, notwithstanding the fact that everyone’s consumption patterns are unique.

In comparison to their electric counterparts, conventional fuels like natural gas and gasoline are relatively inefficient when used for heating and driving vehicles, respectively. This indicates that we can significantly lower our energy consumption without making any sacrifices by just switching to electric gadgets that have a higher efficiency rating.

The typical annual mileage for a car is roughly 12,500 kilometers, and energy consumption from automobiles accounts for 69% of total energy use in the typical home. Electric vehicles are, thankfully, approximately three and a half times more efficient than gas-powered vehicles at converting energy into motion. Even if an electric car is charged using the same power system that is now in place, the cost of fuel will be reduced by approximately one half.

When cars are taken out of the equation, the heating of the air in our homes is responsible for 37% of the average household’s emissions. 58% of people fall into this category in Victoria, but only 8% do so in Queensland.

Home heating alternatives including natural gas, electric resistance heating, and wood fires are not nearly as efficient as reverse-cycle air conditioners, also known as heat pumps. Heat pumps are at least four times as efficient as traditional air conditioners. There is no reduction in level of comfort caused by the use of an electric heat pump’s savings on energy and money.

The average amount of energy required for space cooling in Australia is noticeably lower than the amount of energy required for space heating. This indicates that the average energy consumption of dwellings in Queensland and the Northern Territory is much lower. The approaches that we use now to cool space are reasonably effective, and they are almost entirely powered by electricity. We are able to do nothing to change them and still reap the financial benefits of cheaper solar power.

About 45% of water heaters in Australia are powered by gas, another 45% are powered by electric resistive heaters, and the remaining 10% are powered by combination of solar panels as well as heat pumps. However, the cost of heating water with an efficient heat pump is approximately cut in half when compared to the cost of heating water with natural gas, even when using the current power infrastructure. When the energy needs of the home are met by solar panels and a home battery, the associated expenditures are approximately reduced by a factor of three.

In 2021, the use of gas and electricity for cooking accounted for approximately the same amount of energy consumption in Australia. Induction ranges heat food more rapidly and accurately than gas ranges, and they do not pollute the surrounding air. In addition to being beneficial for our wallets and the environment, converting our stovetops to electric power has a favorable impact on the health of our friends and family.

Your efforts to electrify everything can benefit from your familiarity with the available financial incentives. You are able to efficiently finance an electric vehicle using pre-tax income thanks to the fringe benefit tax exemptions that the commonwealth provides for novated leases on electric vehicles. There is also a plethora of funding available from state and local governments in the form of incentives for electric vehicle (EV) chargers, heat pumps, and induction stoves. Craftsmen are typically knowledgeable about these discounts and may frequently apply for them on your behalf.

It is essential that you are aware of your legal rights. When I inquired with the local gas company about the possibility of removing gas from my property in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, I was informed that there would be a charge of more than $1,100. Many others in Australia have gone through something comparable, and it wasn’t until they took legal action that they discovered the gas can be capped (meaning it can be turned off, but the gas lines can still be found) for approximately $150.

In my situation, I am continuing to advocate, on the basis of principle, for the complete elimination of the lines. Although some governments, like Victoria, have been pioneers in reducing these fees and taking on the associated costs, we have the ability to and should go even further in this regard.

Introducing more electricity into your life does not have to be challenging or expensive. It merely needs to be a part of your 10-year plan, and by the end of that time, you’ll have far better appliances and cars, more money in your pocket, and a clearer conscience about doing what you can for the generations that come after you.

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