Let’s see the evidence

The Age has a story that seems too good to be true.

By using timers, switching off appliances overnight, growing shade plants on hot walls instead of buying air conditioning and configuring their house smartly (including double glazing and solar panels on an extension) they have cut their energy bill from about $2000 a year to $350.

Energy use of less than a dollar a day with “a 42-inch plasma TV as well as a Playstation, and the usual array of computers and mobile phones”.

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54 Responses to Let’s see the evidence

  1. ar says:

    instead of buying air conditioning

    What is “buying air conditioning”? Does the writer mean the power to run it or the hardware itself?

    solar panels on an extension

    Gotta love those feed-in tariffs.

    they have cut their energy bill from about $2000 a year to $350

    See, the electricity tax is nothing to worry about. We just have to be smarter and we can be even better off than before the tax. Easy.

  2. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Wonder if they’ve got a fridge?

  3. daddy dave says:

    configuring their house smartly (including double glazing

    How much does it cost to double-glaze your windows?

  4. ken n says:

    David McKay’s book – Sustainable Energy, without the hot air is worth reading, even for a skeptic.
    His strapline is “Every Big bit Helps” and he explodes most of the nonsense about saving the planet by not leaving your TV on standby and such.
    An example

    The truth about chargers

    Modern phone chargers, when left plugged in with no phone attached,
    use about half a watt. In our preferred units, this is a power consump-
    tion of about 0.01 kWh per day. For anyone whose consumption stack is
    over 100 kWh per day, the BBC’s advice, always unplug the phone charger,
    could potentially reduce their energy consumption by one hundredth of
    one percent (if only they would do it).
    Every little helps!

    I don’t think so. Obsessively switching off the phone-charger is like bailing
    the Titanic with a teaspoon. Do switch it off, but please be aware how tiny
    a gesture it is. Let me put it this way:
    All the energy saved in switching off your charger for one day
    is used up in one second of car-driving.

    The energy saved in switching off the charger for one year is
    equal to the energy in a single hot bath.

  5. No Worries says:

    How much does it cost to double-glaze your windows?

    A small fortune ?
    If you live in Canberra the price doubles.

    And how much gas, and other fuels were used during the period of comparison ??

  6. conrad says:

    I’m not sure how much my connection alone costs without any power at all, but I imagine a fair bit of that $350.

    Despite the silly figures, the idea that you can save energy (even just to save money), is not such a bad idea, and it would be nice to know what the true costs/savings for different things are. My house is always very hot in summer (it has one of those tin roofs and some of my garden is paved with bricks which absorb heat all day), for example, so I’m thinking of getting around to painting the roof with some of the white solar reflective paint you can buy (I believe they use it in the NT a fair bit, but could be wrong), which is pretty cheap — I think I could do my roof for a few hundred dollars and if that took a few degrees off it would be great. Some of the shade sails seem like a good idea also, and they’re also pretty cheap.

  7. conrad says:


    speaking of chargers etc., what I wouldn’t mind is just one switch that turns off everything in my house except my fridge (like you get in hotels). That probably would save me bit, since I have my TV, stereo, phone charger, wireless modem, microwave, the light I forgot to turn off etc. . That might well save me a bit.

  8. daddy dave says:

    Despite the silly figures, the idea that you can save energy (even just to save money), is not such a bad idea

    That’s true.

    But this isn’t just ‘handy saving tips’ for our benefit, it’s all part of a moral message, to push the responsibility of being “good” for the environment back onto us, the consumers. I’d prefer to have power deregulated, have more power stations, and cheap electricity.

  9. ken n says:

    Maybe, conrad. I would not want my modem and router turned off nor my beside clock radio because if it forgets the time, I am in trouble next morning. And we probably all have something that makes a masterswitch not very useful.
    Read McKay’s book – or the 10 page pdf synopsis on the website.
    The only household use of energy that matters much is heating and cooling.
    Ads I have neither central heating nor airconditioning I can feel pretty clean and green. Tasmania gets chilly – I wondeer what Brown uses at home? And I’m sure that in Canberra he uses both heating and cooling.

  10. Rococo Liberal says:

    Sinclair Davidson: He reads the Age, so you don’t have to!

    Thank you Sinclair, I don’t know how you do it. How can you stand so much bovine, uncultured smugness? You are a brave man, a noble man and a great Australian!

  11. ken n says:

    The reason all this is important is that, but way-understating the size of the changes needed to reduce carbon emissions enough to make a difference to AGW people are being told it will be painless.
    It will not.
    Bit like statements that the carbon tax won’t hurt much. Probably trueish, but if that’s so it’s because it will have a tiny effect on atmospheric carbon.
    Skeptics (and on the science, I am not one) are accused of telling untruths. The AGW advocates are doing far more damage by lack of honesty about the real cost of reducing atmospheric carbon.

    PS On the subject of the science supporting AGW, no correspondence will be entered into.

  12. kae says:

    I don’t believe it. $2k to $300 odd per annum?

    Queensland is introducing Time Of Use tariffs to change how we use electricity in SEQ.

    I really can’t see that making electricity dear as poison during peak and cheap during off peak, with no alternative, will change people’s habits. There is a reason why peak periods are peak, it has to do with necessity not whim.

    I was sent this during the week. I think it’s a scream.

    The new carbon tax is popular as

  13. . says:

    Imagine how much cheap clean green power we’d have if the likes of Brown didn’t don their best to deprive us of cheap sources of energy like hydro and nuclear back in the early 1980s.

  14. Milton Von Smith says:

    “growing shade plants on hot walls instead of buying air conditioning”

    Are these people mad? Ever tried living through a Qld summer without air-conditioning?

  15. ken n says:

    Yes, . , nothing except wind or solar will be tolerated.
    McKay also explains why, at least in the UK, this is nonsense.

  16. Chris M says:

    I put a shade sail outside a bedroom on the western side, it went from being the hottest room in the house to one of the coolest. I take it down each winter.

    There is an element of common sense in living efficiently but this gets spoilt by the green totalitarian kooks who take it all to insane extremes and try to force it on others.

  17. FDB says:

    “Are these people mad? Ever tried living through a Qld summer without air-conditioning?”

    No, “these people” live in Melbourne. As such, Queensland summers are not a particular concern.

  18. Jim Rose says:

    do consumer protection laws apply to such a promise?

  19. FDB says:

    Jim, mate. Renew that prescription pronto.

  20. Johno says:

    Sinclair, you didn’t mention that the article was based on CSIRO modeling. Even more dodgy than the dodgy Treasury modeling. Why are we continuing to fund this government mouthpiece parading as an ‘independent’ scientific research centre!

  21. Rabz says:

    FFS, why are we allowing these pillocks to try and control our lives in this manner?

    Big nanny says do this, peon and then do that…

    To quote DD, meddle, meddle, meddle.

    Just f*ck off and get out of my life you stupid statist twats.

  22. kelly liddle says:

    There is one thing missing in the story. No mention of the capital cost including any subsidies for the solar etc. So the article is completely meaningless without that.

  23. FDB says:

    Rabz, if you think people writing articles about other people saving energy is an attempt to control your life, I suggest that you are an hysterical buffoon.

  24. genwot4 says:

    Ever tried living through a Qld summer without air-conditioning?

    Yes. I have done so for 25 years.

    Moreover most people I know in Brisbane by choice live in unairconditioned houses – excluding fans – and in many cases with not even a fan of any sort. They don’t complain in the sense of saying I can’t live without airconditioning.

    Of course if you live in an area surrounded almost totally by tar and concrete and little greenery, you’re going to suffer temps of up to 10deg higher on average. But that’s a lifestyle choice.

  25. Rabz says:

    “saving energy”

    We have an abundance of cheap energy sources in this country, you clueless clump.

    What I’m objecting to is unrepresentative stalinist morons attempting to drive up the cost of those energy sources based an utterly discredited anti scientific, fact and evidence free load of bollocks.

    These wankers have no right to mandate increased costs of living or make people feel guilty about using mod cons like air conditioners.

    Get it now, genius?

  26. JamesK says:

    Rabz, if you think people writing articles about other people saving energy is an attempt to control your life

    For a start people advocating higher taxes and higher utility costs is an attempt by others to control your life.

    We in Australia have seen extraordinary rises in our electricity bills for a reason.

    And Solyndra had many of the usual clowns writing articles about other people saving energy

  27. Rabz says:


    Sorry about the swipes. Of all the leftists on this site, you at least seem to be a decent person, one who’s occasionally demonstrated some introspection and who also acknowledges that we’re not infallible.

    We’re only human, after all.

  28. annomer says:

    Here’s some more unsubstantiated costings the media is pushing to further a left-wing agenda:


    To anyone who says Australia is turning into a nanny state that restricts the right of the individual, I say put that $32 billion in your pipe and smoke it.

    I’d say that $32billion comes from that ridiculous study that compares the average length of time a smoker dies before their average life expectancy, multiplies it by the average cost of keeping an elderly person in an old folks home, then declares that a cost to society, because that’s what society is willing to pay to keep an old person.

    If it is indeed the same study, in the small print it also mentions that the additional directly attributable medical costs of smokers is less than $1billion. Of course, smokers pay multiple times this in tobacco excise alone.

  29. Helen Armstrong says:

    It is all faux, just check out the eco houses being built in Darwin these days, all require aircon, there is zero ability to cool the house without it. Lunacy!

    Conrad, my brother used that paint on his roof in Darwin, he reckons only a couple of degrees reduction.

  30. C.L. says:

    Of course they’re trying to control our lives. Energy in Australia should be as cheap as chips. The reason it’s so expensive is that Labor governments’ various insane policies and subsidies to ‘alternative’ (read, failed) energy sources now have to be paid for. So having caused electricity bills to soar into the stratosphere, these dishonest clowns then come along and say they have the solution to the mysterious problem (which they caused).

  31. Mother Hubbard's Dog says:

    How much does it cost to double-glaze your windows?

    We got a quote to double glaze our windows about seven or eight years ago – $15,000. I imagine it would be a lot more now.

  32. John H. says:

    roof with some of the white solar reflective paint you can buy

    Do your homework, there are now a number of such paints available and definitely worth considering. Some make claims of big reductions in cooling costs.

    For indoor paints, choose low VOC(volatile organic compound). Earlier paints relied on glycol, that stuff in radiators, and this releases compounds for many weeks if not months after painting. Some preliminary studies find clear associations betweenc concentrations of VOCs(particularly glycol related VOCs) in rooms and childhood incidence of asthma and some other immunological conditions; including immunological sensitisation(IgE I think not sure).

  33. daddy dave says:

    We need more coal-fired power stations.

  34. daddy dave says:

    ome preliminary studies find clear associations betweenc concentrations of VOCs(particularly glycol related VOCs) in rooms and childhood incidence of asthma and some other immunological conditions

    Yikes! Thanks for the warning, John.

  35. Rex says:

    Same goes for off-gassing carpets adhesives, can be as bad as the paints.

    As for Sinc’s original question on evidence. I could provide that evidence with all the correct inputs. We use performance modelling software to create a virtual environment so our building designs will pass energy efficiency approval. Mind you I charge like a wounded Rhino for the service

  36. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B. says:

    Genwot, you must be too wet and sweaty to be near in a Queensland summer.

    Build some more coal-fired power stations, just like Daddy Dave says. China has the edge on this, plenty of practice, and can sell us plans for the latest models now.

  37. dean says:



    … seriously though – we all know that Keynes was wrong and can be glad that his school yard economics have been disproved with our tax dollars and the tax dollars of our children.

    now, making some eco-hippy big deal out of not wasting power (and thereby saving money) is just silly feel good crap and goes to show how poorly people are equipped by our educational system and their upbringing generally. The first step to being wealthy is plugging the holes in your expenditures that dont impact your lifestyle. From there you can make changes that do impact your lifestyle if you so choose. Most people can probably save some money on power if they spend a little time auditing their usage, turning a few things off and replacing some old appliances – that doesn’t in any way excuse the prices sky rocketing for no reason other than government meddling.

  38. Abu Chowdah says:

    Anybody who lives through Queenland summers without AC and fans by choice is probably also a regular on Today Tonight because of their 23 dogs and various un-neighbourly odours.

  39. Rabz says:

    Deano – love the avatar!

  40. genwot4 says:

    Lizzie, well-bred ladies in Qld or anywhere don’t sweat, they perspire. And a man who sweats is a big turn on, or so I have observed.

    Of course we all sweat, it’s a biological imperative. But there are ways and means of ameliorating the effects of heat and sweat without expensive a/c.

    Here are a couple: building verandahs or semi-outdoor areas, maintaining a healthily low body weight, cold baths, wearing no or few clothes (at home), hand fans, filling the house with plants and planting as many trees as possible outside.

  41. Boy on a bike says:

    “wear no clothes at home”

    I’ll remember that queenslander tip next time Kae comes down for a feed.

  42. kae says:


    Hmm. Not if you wanna keep dinner down.

  43. kae says:

    By the way, I’ll be in Sydney in January, when I’m not occupying Norfolk Island with my family.

  44. perturbed says:

    Fine if you can afford all that.

    Did anyone with half a brain left ever think they’d see the day when they’d witness the Labor Party sticking it to the poor of Australia?

  45. Rafe says:

    My long-dead auntie told me that horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies just glow.

    As for reducing power consumption, how much discretionary use is there available to reduce after you consider the major and essential items – hot water, cooking, heating (and cooling if you think that is essential, which I do).

    Sure you can make reductions at the margins, like making kids put on jumpers and sox instead of the heater on cool days, but major reductions mostly require major capital investment.

  46. michaelc58 says:

    If you buy yourself a 20kW diesel generator for the backyard, you can reduce your electricity bill to $0. Does that count?

  47. Winston Smith says:

    No Michael – your fuel bill goes through the roof. (And I guess you knew that anyway.)
    20kW – are you running a couple of welders as well?
    I’ve got a 12kva genset, and it runs a three bedroom house with 2 big aircon units.

  48. bruce says:

    Obviously none of these enviro-smarties comes from a Scottish background. My dad was policing our house 50 years ago yelling at anyone who left a switch on or wasted a drop of water, ‘I’ve got to work to pay for that’. On hot days we sat with wet towels around our heads. These kids ain’t seen nothing.

  49. Leigh Lowe says:

    The Age … full of shit

  50. Leigh Lowe says:

    Apparently the 42″ Plasma is restricted to watching highlights of Q&A on ABC2 at 3:00 am

  51. kae says:

    Though my family isn’t Scottish, I’m sure we must be related.

  52. Tiny Dancer says:

    We grew up in a shoebox

  53. Rebel with cause says:

    A shoebox! Luxury! We grew up in the gutter by the road. Had to clean the road with tongue we did. If you wanted to cool down in the summer you had to lay under passing freight trucks…

  54. Rebel with cause says:

    Jokes aside, as a result of these green policies that unnecessarily increase the cost of living, children will grow up poorer. I’m not suggesting that kids will starve but parents will have less money to spend on education and healthcare, as well as fun things like family holidays.

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