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Beating the Carbon Tax: Practical Solutions

Last Updated Jul 11, 2012 · Written by Rob Schneider

The carbon tax is here and will have direct and indirect consequences for all Australians. The best way to beat it is to take practical steps to reduce your carbon footprint. This will reduce your personal energy bills, help reduce your energy supplier's carbon tax and ultimately help the tax fulfill its intended purpose: to make Australia a cleaner, greener country. Fortunately, you don't need to take drastic measures to beat the carbon tax: it's amazing what  big difference some relatively minor and inexpensive (even free) changes can make.

Identifying the Energy Wasters in the Home

The water heater is the biggest energy waster in the average home. In fact, standard electric water heaters waste so much energy, in 2012,  Australian government regulations came into place mandating that new homes, apartments, townhouses and other family dwelling built where natural gas pipes are available must install gas water heaters.

The law does not stipulate that existing dwellings must replace their electric water heaters, but if yours is old or in need of repair, consider switching to natural gas. If natural gas is not available in your area, talk to a local plumber about other energy saving options such as solar and electric heat pump technology, which uses about a quarter of the energy of an old-fashioned water heater.

Following closely on the heels of water heaters are heating systems and air conditioning. There are some great energy saving systems available today, but even if you don't want to replace yours, you can slash your energy consumption by simply allowing your house to be a couple of degrees cooler in winter.

Other energy eaters in the home include:

  • Fridges can use enormous amounts of energy. One way to curb their energy consumptions is to make sure the seals around the door are in good nick. If you have an older fridge, maybe it's time to take it to your nearest appliance repair service for a tune-up. If you replace your fridge, look for one with a good Energy Star rating. On fridges, a difference of a single star makes a 23 percent difference in its energy efficiency.
  • Washing machines can waste both water and electricity. Only wash full loads and wash in cold water and you'll notice big saving on your energy consumption. If you have a dryer, use it only when necessary. Using a clothes line is one of the easiest ways to take advantage of free passive solar energy and the sun's UV rays are nature's natural disinfectant.
  • Dishwashers, too, are big consumers of energy. As with your washing machine, use your dishwasher only for full loads and consider hand washing light loads of dishes.

Insulate and Save

Keeping heat in the house in winter and shielding it from the heat in summer are two of the best ways to beat the carbon tax. Up to 50 percent of heat loss can be through an un-insulated or poorly insulated ceiling and another 30 percent can be lost through the windows. Insulation is an inexpensive way to prevent rising heat from leaving the house. An insulation specialist can help you choose the perfect solution for your needs.

When it comes to windows, there are several options available. The ultimate solution is to replace your windows with timber-framed, double glazed windows, so if you're renovating or building, consider spending more now to save in the future with double glazed windows.

A less expensive way to insulate your windows is to replace your blinds with newer "honeycomb" blinds with reflective backing. Honeycomb blinds help protect the home in two ways:
  1. The cellular "honeycomb" structure of the blinds creates a similar effect to double-glazed windows: the air trapped in the cells acts as a very effective form of insulation.

  2. The reflective backing reflects exterior heat and cold away from the interior of the home.

Light Up Your Life and Save

During the winter months, days are shorter and darker, and we tend to turn on the lights far more than we do in summer. Make it a habit only to use the lighting you need and you can put a big dent in your energy consumption. Even better, replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs use just a quarter of the energy of standard bulbs. Over the course of a winter, that amounts to a big dent in your energy consumption and is a great way to help beat the carbon tax.

You may not be able to implement all of these ideas at once, but when you begin to see how much money taking a few steps towards making your home more energy efficient can save, you'll be motivated to implement others. At the same time you're beating the carbon tax, you'll be doing your part to save the environment: this can only be a good thing for everyone.
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