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Domestic emissions in Australia.

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Castles & Cars — Cash Savings In The Suburbs

Rewiring Australia recently produced a report, Castles & Cars, with the support of Mike Cannon-Brookes that makes the case for electrifying everything in the Aussie home. Not just heating, cooling, and cooking, but also transport. There are savings to be made in the suburbs if we electrify our castles and our cars.

One of the most exciting parts of the report to me was the fact that some of the assumptions have already shifted. In Australia, petrol has increased by 30%, some electric cars (Tesla Model 3) have dropped in price by 20%, and electricity can be had at a much cheaper rate. Some state governments have already begun to incentivize the uptake of electric vehicles. TAFE colleges at the federal and state level have started to plan training programs that fit with a coming age of batteries and electrification.

This report reframes the debate around government support for electrifying the home from handout to investment in a better future. It postulates that a $12 billion investment will yield a $302 billion saving by 2035.

Castles and Cars

Money saved by electrifying homes and transport.

Australia’s 10 million households are responsible for almost half of domestic emissions, and nearly all of that comes from how we use energy in cars and homes. With appropriate financing, electric appliances will provide lower annual expenses than fossil fuel powered ones by 2024. I have a solar-powered house with an EV and would say that this is possible now.

“By 2030, Australia’s households could be saving over $40 billion a year, which is close to — and in future could overtake — our export earnings from coal.

“The Average Australian household currently uses just over 100kWh of energy, including the energy lost in thermoelectric power generation and the energy required to power personal vehicles. If all users switched to electric solutions, this drops to only 37kWh and can be nearly completely satisfied with a 10–12 kW capacity solar installation and a compatible battery.”

The potential of Australian rooftop solar generation is 245 TWh per year. Residential solar potential alone is 130 TWh, enough to power 10 million 37 kWh Aussie homes. “Cars are the largest contributor to household emissions and energy cost, accounting for 38% of household emissions and averaging ~$3,000 per household in annual fuel expenses.” This will only increase. As an EV driver, I watch the price of petrol constantly increase. I am saving $4000 per year in fuel costs alone.

By replacing their current cars with electric vehicles, switching their natural gas heating systems (water heating, space heating, or kitchen) to electric heat pumps, and providing their electricity from solar on the roof, the average Aussie could be saving significant amounts of money.

“If this shift is embraced right now and we replace current machines with zero-emission alternatives (from heaters, to cars, to power plants), we can win the global race for decarbonisation and keep track with emissions trajectories commensurate with a 1.5 degree world.”

We need to practice 100% clean replacement. If your gas stove stops working, replace it with an electric one. If your water heater stops working, replace it with electric — or better yet, solar. When your car breaks down, replace it with an EV — or possibly an electric bike paired with public transport. We don’t need two cars in every garage. With a little planning, we could use one car and an alternative form of transport.

“Finance is clearly a piece of the puzzle that needs to be considered and, pleasingly, major banks are now providing consumer financing for these goods. The banks aren’t stupid. They know that by 2030 the average Australian household could save $5,000–6,000 per year on energy and vehicle fuel costs relative to 2021. …

“Providing rebates and financing to low income households in this transition phase needs to be a national priority. …

“It isn’t rocket science, we need to abolish subsidies for gas appliances, stop expanding gas reticulation networks, and aggressively phase out natural gas for both new households and existing households. New programmes will be required to build battery and EV markets, with a priority on low-income homes. Australia will need to develop financing solutions for the lowest income households including policies that incentivize both landlords and renters to help appropriately distribute the savings.”

It is important to note that this is not only possible but is happening now in suburbs and streets near you. What we need to do is speed it up so that our castles and cars save us money, rather than costing the earth.

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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].


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