How to be green – appliances versus air conditioning
My public confession of not being able to give up gadgets resulted in a comment about an article from the US about how the energy efficiency savings from air conditioning units is being wiped out by the increased energy consumption from appliances in our homes. Thanks Ed.
So is it true in Australia? Big data can help.
Please note this is not a post about the absolving of guilt of my gadget use, nothing can forgive that.
Electrical Consumption from Appliances
Well, as it happens, yes our electrical consumption from appliances has increased between 1990 and 2005 by approximately 26%, but the proportion of electrical use in a house that is used by appliances has stayed steady at 50-55%. So if the proportion of electricity use from appliances has stayed steady but appliance electricity use has increased must mean that the electricity consumption in the average house must have increased.
Electrical Consumption in an Average Australian House
Between 1990 and 2005 the electricity consumption in an average Australian house has increased by 17% with the greatest percentage increases coming from heating at 73% and cooling at 164%. So in percentage terms the electricity consumption from heating and cooling has increased way beyond electricity consumption from appliances. Electric water heating and electric cooking has reduced between 1990 and 2005 as many homes has switched from electric to gas water heating.
So in percentage terms I’m ok with my gadgets!
The actual consumption in kWh over a year gives a slightly different picture.
The increase in electrical consumption from appliances is approximately 900kWh per year versus 625kWh per year increase from heating and cooling, appliance electricity use is some 50% more than heating and cooling for an average Australian household.
So my gadgets aren’t so good after all.
But the hypothesis from the US article is that appliances have soaked up the efficiencies in air conditioing
In Australia this is definately not true. We haven’t seen any reduction in heating or cooling between 1990 and 2005, in fact the number of houses with air conditioning has increased dramatically – in 2000 only 35% of homes had cooling, in 2008 this was 66%!
So at the moment I can’t see any efficiency gains in cooling and heating to be soaked up by gadget use!
But yes, the use of appliances in homes outweighs the use of air conditioning by a factor of 10.
Maybe we should leave house energy ratings where there are and focus on reducing the energy consumption of appliances!