According to the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (how’s that for a department title!) the electricity usage of households has been falling, with coal-fired generation falling sharply, in contrast to growth in gas and renewable electricity generation. Nevertheless total electricity generation in Australia in 2012–13 was still 249 terawatt hours (897 petajoules). A “terawatt” is a unit of power equal to one trillion watts.
Translating that down to household level, it means that we still use a lot of electricity – which has the potential for high a high electricity bill and a fair amount of household argument. In fact along with no one putting out the rubbish or changing the empty toilet roll, it seems that electricity usage can be shocking in more ways than one. A quick poll around the office revealed the following energy bugbears.
The energy savers…
“A few of my gripes include one child who loves to turn on the heatlamps in the bathroom all year round (and never remembers to turn them off on leaving the bathroom…). Plus a teenager coming home from a night out and not turning off the porch light his mother kindly left on for him. Then the husband often forgets to turn the BBQ off after removing the food. One night the whole of the fatty BBQ hotplate and interior caught fire and flames were shooting out the back. Our neighbours nearly called the fire brigade.”
“Leaving the doors and windows open when air conditioner is on. That one drives me crazy.”
“My friend’s current housemate leaves the air conditioner and dryer on (with one shirt in it) for the whole day when he’s out at work. It’s a bad habit… Electricity hit the roof.
“My current housemate uses the dryer as well but for just one item (e.g. a towel) for at least 40 minutes. I secretly reduce the duration to 20 minutes when she’s not watching…”
“To save electricity, I used to always switch off the lights whenever I left a room and this would drive my partner crazy. He’d always insist that the electricity used to turn on the lights exceeds the savings of turning the lights off. This never made sense to me but I figured it was usually easier to just let it slide. A few years later, Mythbusters tested this myth. They found that unless you’re only leaving the room for a fraction of a second, it’s almost always better to turn the light off. You can watch the Mythbusters’ Lights On or Off MiniMyth here.
“However, what I saw as a triumph moment was short lived. My partner still leaves the lights on and I still switch off the lights behind him (i.e. “Do you really need the kitchen light on when you’re in the living room?” moments). At least now I can play my Mythbusters card to quieten him!”
“My kids are great at leaving lights on in every room they enter – and finding them still on the next day. They also like putting the air-con onto the coldest setting they can in bedrooms and leaving it on 24/7 for days.”
“My partner always leaves the lights on. I’ve given up arguing with her about it, now I just moan to myself! I mean really, it’s senseless. If you leave a room, turn the light off. You’re just burning money.”
“People taking 40 minutes showers “because they’re bored” really gets on my nerves. As does leaving the lights on – sure, it doesn’t amount to a huge dollar amount, but it’s entirely senseless.”
The energy users…
“My parents have a habit of turning every appliance off at the power-point at all times – even if they are just heading out for an hour. It’s crazy.”
“I hate hanging up washing outside on the washing line – I just take it out of the washing machine when it’s done and place it straight into the tumble dryer – (I love the texture of the washing when it comes out of the tumble dryer). This causes some really good ‘conversations’ in our house between my husband and I!!”
“I get in big trouble for leaving the lights on in every room apart from my own when I go to bed and I’m also in the bad books if I leave my air conditioning on when I’m not at home. Which is every day…”
“The length of time my kids spend in the shower is out of control. Not good for our gas bill or the environment. If I didn’t spend so long in the shower myself, I’d get really angry with them…”