How to be greener, cleaner, and save money

Charmaine Wong, Yahoo7 Moneyhound Updated September 17, 2012, 7:19 am
How to be greener, cleaner, and save money

It’s not always easy being green.

And it can be expensive too. Shane Rattenbury, speaker of the ACT Legislative Assembly recently asked a consumer watchdog to investigate the high prices of a renewable energy choice premiums.

The Greens MP said that he expects the price for provider ActewAGL’s renewable energy to decrease with falling solar and wind prices.

The fact is, clean energy doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Green energy options

Green energy can be solar, wind or hydro. According to Clean Energy Australia, about 10% of Australia’s energy comes from these renewable sources. Renewable energy may be more expensive at the moment, but these rates are expected to fall as more people adopt this environmentally-friendly option and more infrastructures for the industry develop.

Related: Benefits of the carbon tax

Compare and switch

Switching to a renewable energy plan might be a little bit more expensive in the short term, especially for those that are on 100% ‘green’.

By doing an electricity search on Moneyhound, starting with your postcode, you'll see that each plan in the list has a GreenPower rating.

Knowing the GreenPower rating allows you to decide how green you want to be if putting putting solar panels on your roof is not an option. For GreenPower plans, your energy provider will buy renewable energy on your behalf meaning part or all of your energy use will come from a renewable source.

GreenPower estimates that switching to 100 per cent GreenPower will cost an extra 5-8 cents per KWh more than ordinary electricity rates.

The GreenPower website says, ‘A smaller contribution of 10-25 per cent GreenPower will cost as little as 80 cents to $1 a week, equating to less than the cost of two cups of coffee over a month.’

You don’t have to let the slightly higher prices get in the way of doing your bit for the environment. Compare energy plans that are partially green and select one based on how much you want to spend and the percentage of your energy you would like to come from renewable sources.

Related: How to switch electricity suppliers

Harvest your own

Solar panels can be a good addition to your home if you would like to reap long-term savings. The National Solar Credits program means you could make an up-front saving on this purchase. The amount you save depends on the zone in which your home is located as well as the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) that comes with the equipment.

Other cheap ways to be green

Aside from buying green energy, there are also some easy ways to be green by simply using less energy.

1. Use low-energy lighting

Using fluorescent lights or LED light can be a simple way to use less energy around the home. According to the Government of South Australia, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are five times more efficient than standard light bulbs and also last longer.

2. Switch off

Appliances around the home are still using energy when they’re on standby. Computers, sound systems and microwaves are just some of the appliances that can be turned off when they’re not in use to save energy.

3. Insulation

Heating and cooling the home can use a lot of energy depending on the climate of your city and the positioning of each room. Use door stoppers to prevent drafts cooling your home in winter and use blinds or curtains to block out hot summer sunshine. Insulation bats in the roof will also make a large difference. These small changes mean that you spend less paying for heating and air-conditioning while also using less energy.

4. Heating and air-conditioning

If you do need to heat or cool your home, only do so for the rooms in use. Try to dress for the climate and use as little energy in heating and cooling the home as possible. GreenPower says each degree you don’t heat or cool your home will save about 10 per cent on your heating bill.

Doing your bit for the environment doesn’t have to be expensive. There are easy ways for everyone to curb their energy spending and be green at the same time.

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