Reducing Peak Electricity Demand with Education & Energy Monitors

Back in 2010 we were approached by Integral Energy (now Endeavour Energy) to help implement an energy efficiency program.

The aim of the program was to increase energy efficiency awareness and ultimately slow the growth of peak electricity demand in North West Sydney. This 'North West Growth Sector' includes about 70,000 new dwellings for an expected population of 200,000 people.

The approach taken in this program is known as demand side management. It's an alternative to simply building more power stations and expanding the capacity of the electricity grid each time demand goes up. Demand management is usually a lot cheaper than these 'traditional' approaches (of building more 'poles and wires').

This particular program consisted of:

  • A competition to win a $3,000 home energy makeover.
  • Accompanying energy efficiency tips for residents.
  • Installation of 400 home energy monitors in the Hills and Blacktown local government areas.

Energy Efficiency Program

Promotional material from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Program.

We were involved in several aspects of the program including the installation of the wireless energy monitors. We also conducted telephone reviews and follow-up site visits to make sure the monitors were working, to provide assistance if required, and to gather feedback.

The majority of homes reported very positive feedback about the energy monitor. This feedback is summarised below.

 

Many residents reported specific examples of how they have used the monitor to identify particular energy problems and solutions in their homes.

We found out the heat pump wasn't working properly and had it repaired. The whole family checks the energy monitor to see what needs turning off. – Resident, Castle Hill

It's very interesting - we turned on the oil heater and the fan heater and compared them. The oil heater uses less power. – Resident, Blacktown

The beer fridge is getting the sack. – Resident, Rouse Hill

Don't buy a plasma - TV times have now changed. It's brilliant! – Resident, Marayong

The educational benefit of the monitor was a strong theme in the follow-up reviews. This was true for most age-groups and quite varied levels of existing ‘energy awareness.’

The monitor has taught me that our air conditioner uses power in standby. – Resident, Seven Hills

We've found more ways to reduce our energy use, even though we have already had five energy assessments through various programs. – Resident, Lalor Park

We now turn off all the power points. It’s amazing. – Resident, Stanhope Gardens

We have now changed all our lighting to energy saver globes. The kids are also checking their energy use and turning everything off before they go to bed. – Resident, Baulkham Hills

Most importantly, households found the device easy to use, even ‘fun’, with many now incorporating it into their routine in some way.

I have been having a great time finding my energy guzzlers and turning them off. – Resident, Baulkham Hills

We enjoy using the energy monitor, it has confirmed our current energy efficient practices and helped us find some other areas to reduce energy. – Resident, Baulkham Hills

We've started earth hour every day. – Resident, Woodcroft

I check it every morning! – Resident, Oakhurst

By Ryan McCarthy |

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