Bright ideas: Energy myths that will shock you

By Nikki Galovic

23 March 2018

4 minute read

Prepared to be shocked by our myth busting

You might be thinking your own household can’t possibly make a difference to our national energy issues, let alone our global climate woes. Well, think again because we’re here to bust the myths surrounding household energy and how much difference turning that light off really makes. Yes, we get the irony of getting you to read this on your energy-sucking computer or phone but heed our advice and it will save you in the long run.

Myth 1: Turning appliances off at the power point won’t make a big difference

Even when appliances are turned off or on standby, they’re still drawing power.

If you go through every room in your house and add up the number of appliances currently plugged in and on standby, or turned off but not at the outlet, you’ll see how quickly it can add up. The average home contains around 40 products constantly drawing power. But is it a significant amount? Is it worth your energy (pun intended) to go around turning all your appliances off at the power source?

These sleeping devices may account for as much as 10 per cent of your household’s energy use. And while we like to think that products are becoming more energy efficient, the fact is we’re just getting more and more pieces of technology that need to be plugged in. The average LCD TV is drawing 2.3 Watts of electricity per hour on standby. And your wireless modem could be drawing as much as 10 Watts per hour. Not only is that a waste of energy, but it could also be costing you your hard-earned cash!

Myth 2: Light bulbs don’t use much energy

Your lightbulbs are definitely using less energy than say, your TV, but when you start to do the maths, you can see it quickly adds up.

So is it worth updating your globes to a more energy efficient variety? Now this is a tough one because a trip down the hardware isle of your local shop will tell you there are many different types of light globes on the market. Which to choose?! Well, a 60 Watt incandescent light globe used to light up your garden while you sleep, for example, uses around 600 Watts per day, which equates to around $66 per year. That’s per globe. By contrast, an LED lightbulb uses around 12 Watts, which equates to around $13 per year, per globe. Include a motion sensor and that can reduce it to $1.30. And LED lightbulbs last a lot longer too – up to 20 years compared to around 3 years for an incandescent bulb.

And is there any wisdom in that nagging voice shouting ‘Why are all the lights on in this house?’. Short answer is, yes. Even with an energy-efficient globe, you can still save big bucks and avoid wasting energy simply by switching the lights off when you leave a room. If you can make it a habit, you’ll use less mental energy in the process too.

Myth 3: Renewable energy only works when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing

All types of electricity generation require back-up. As newer and smarter technologies are being developed, and giant leaps are being made in energy storage technologies, renewable energy is becoming very reliable.

While solar panels might produce less energy on a cloudy day, new technologies in forecasting and intelligent sensing can maximise their efficiency. And with exciting new solar technology research, solar cells are becoming cheaper, longer lasting and more reliable. Luckily for us, Australia is the sunniest continent on Earth.

Wind can be variable, but it’s also predictable. Wind farm sites are chosen after careful analysis of wind patterns. This enables a forecast of output to be made – information that can be made available to network operators who will distribute the electricity. So while it’s true that wind turbines might not be generating electricity if the wind conditions aren’t right, they can still be a reliable power source over time.

Solar and other forms of renewable energy can be used during peak energy demand to stabilise the electricity network.

Myth 4: Industry uses more electricity than houses so it’s not worth bothering

It’s been estimated that Australian households are directly responsible for about one-fifth of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. The average household’s energy use generates over 7 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from its premises. So household energy consumption is no drop in the ocean.

While the transport and manufacturing sectors are the biggest energy consumers in Australia, industrial sources of electricity consumption are actually on the decrease. This is because it makes economic sense for our industries to uptake more energy-efficient practices and adopt lower-emission technologies. This is good news because electricity generation is the largest source of emissions.

We all need to do our bit to see a difference, and reducing our household energy consumption is a good start.

Knowledge is power

Find out more about our energy and renewables research, including tips on how to save energy in your home.