Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Power of Gas

Why choose gas?

Gas is much more efficient for heating than electricity. For example an efficient gas heater is estimated to cost $159 a year to run. This compares with an electric radiant heater at $471 and an oil filled column heater costs $330 a year. There are also savings to the environment (and your household budget) when it comes to hot water systems. Gas hot water systems produce about a third of the greenhouse gas emissions of electric storage hot water systems.

Why should we aim to use less gas?

Gas is more efficient than electricity, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't aim to use less of it. Australia's households account for almost 20 per cent of our national greenhouse gas emissions. Choosing efficient appliances and making simple changes to the way energy is used means you can reduce your impact on the environment (which is what this blog is all about) and save money.

How much gas does the average Victorian household use?

Well the short answer is after a bit a research we’re not entirely sure. There's quite a lot of data on electricity usage (and more on that from us in a future blog) but very little on reticulated (mains) gas usage. We found this a little odd because according to Department of Environment and Primary Industries Victoria has the most extensive reticulated gas network in Australia, so why the lack of data on average usage? The closest we came to an estimate was 52,000MJ / year - and this was from a NSW electricity company.

How much gas have we used in the last 12 months?

Easy! We've done the calculations and know that we have used 13,582MJ, or around a quarter of the average Victorian annual household usage. To put this in perspective we have gas heating, hot water and a gas stove top.

What can every household do to use less gas?

  • If you are buying a new gas appliance (or building) buy the most efficient appliance you can afford - it will pay for itself over time. Consider a solar hot water system with a gas booster. We were fortunate to purchase a home with gas hot water and a hydronic central heating system.
  • Check your household insulation - more is better.
  • Consider what is cold, can you put on a jumper and leaving the heating off? Broad estimates are that for every degree you decrease your heating setting you can save 10 percent of the running cost. 
  • Avoid running heating when the house is empty, timers are great but use them to their best advantage, not just as a default for winter.
  • Open curtains during the day - and close them at night. This allows for passive heating from the sun during the day and keeps the heat in at night. Curtain Pelmets, while ugly also make a big difference.
  • Buy a door snake - draft excluders trap the warm air in and keep the cold air out.
  • Assuming you have gas hot water, use cold water where possible.
  • Reduce your water heater thermostat to 60 to 65 degrees Celsius. Do you even know what temperature your thermostat is set at?

Finally have a read of a post by Tom Murphy on how to slash domestic gas consumption by a factor of five - be warned it gets a little technical in places!

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