The difference between the words and actions of the NSW Government with respect to energy efficiency are just bewildering.
Today, NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher announced a reversal of the plan to ban electric hot water systems that has been gradually being phased in since 2010.
What makes this action bewildering? Well to start with here is what the NSW Governments Department of Environment and Heritage website says: (Page last updated: 21 September 2012)
Electric water heating is the biggest energy user in NSW homes and can account for up to a third of your home’s annual power bill. The overall running cost of your hot water depends on the type of system you have and how you use it.
Running your hot water system efficiently, reducing your hot water use and choosing an energy efficient hot water system can make a big difference to the size of your power bills and carbon pollution.
So, despite Minister Hartchers rhetoric - “Consumers will no longer be forced into buying expensive new hot water systems after the state government overturned an unpopular decision made by the previous government” - his own Government contradicts him, stating that electric systems are the most significant part of household bills.
Having said this, I acknowledge that reticulated gas is not available everywhere (although Mr Hartcher keeps telling us it will be if only he can get Coal Seam Gas wells in everyone’s backyards) and so, we need choices. Do we have choices ?
A quick check using using Rheem’s on-line calculator shows that the expected annual running costs in NSW, based on average consumptions are:
- Electric HW, domestic rate- $1466 per year
- Electric HW, Off peak rate – $519 per year
- SHW, electric boosted domestic tariff – $636 per year
- SHW electric boosted, off peak rate – $288 per year
- SHW, LPG boosted – $516 per year
- SHW, Natural gas boosted $213 per year
- Heat Pump – $354 per year
And of course there are other products and suppliers out there too.
So, the financial befits are variable depending on your situation but comparing off peak electric to off peak SHW would yield a payback around 10 years; if we don’t change our behaviour (which the Minsters department recommends we do).
If you halved your consumption by using energy efficient shower heads, SHW would pay for itself in around 5 years, and that is assuming electricity prices don’t go up – which they will. A general rule of thumb most people selling SHW suggest that paybacks are about 4-5 years.
And of course there are the greenhouse gas emissions; electric hot water systems are so horrendously inefficient that they are a massive GHG problem and off peak systems are even worse, despite the financial benefit, as described here in a graph from the Victoria’s Department of sustainability.
The Minister’s own Renewable Energy Action Plan, released only a few months ago talked up the “aims and goals” of the State to reduce emissions and encourage more renewable energy.
Despite this we now see the Government effectively incentivising the sale of the most energy intensive devices, the source of the biggest energy use in NSW homes and for many, a more expensive annual option.
Short sighted, bewildering, retrograde and utterly out of synch with all the words.
Of course, it does start to make sense when you consider that the NSW Government makes $1.38 Billion dollars a year through the sale of electricity……….
Oh, and also when you consider that the Governments own Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has been calling for the scrapping the the Renewable Energy Target, which provides incentives for SHW products……
This article was originally posted on Solar Business. Re-posted with permission.