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Small Changes, Big Impacts: Edition 2, Energy

We’re claiming 2022 as the year we all move from climate anxiety to climate action. To get you started, we are publishing a series of articles guiding you on the small changes that have the largest environmental impacts.

Last edition, we talked to you about ethical superannuation investments and how your super can contribute to fighting climate change. Catch up on the full article here.

This edition of Small Changes, Big Impact is all about energy.

“In Australia, 76% of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels.” (Green Electricity Guide)

We have the power to change this by either switching to a provider who allows you to choose renewable energy sources or explore new options to utilise solar for your home or business. But first, a bit of education.

CO2 emissions from household electricity can be up to half an individual's carbon footprint, but it doesn't have to be.

Understanding Green Energy vs Traditional Energy

Traditional Energy is created by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, or natural gas, to turn large electricity creating turbines. In Australia, the top three energy companies (AGL, Origin, and Energy Australia) are heavily reliant on coal and gas energy sources making them responsible for nearly half of the emissions from Australia’s entire electricity system (source: 350). ‘

More than one-third of our emissions come from our electricity consumption (source: WWF).

Green energy (aka clean or sustainable energy) is another word for renewable energy; the most popular technologies available being solar and wind.

We believe in a solar powered future but we get that there are still skeptics. Here is one of the most comprehensive articles and videos on the topic of a solar powered Australia.

While we're addressing some concerns with solar in general, I think it is worth noting probably the number question for people considering solar for their homes, "Am I going to lose power if it’s not sunny outside?"

This is the role of batteries in the solar panel set-up. The sun shines, and the energy transfers to a battery that is used by your home as power. Also, a typical home with solar will also be connected to the grid if any supplementary energy is needed, providing you with multiple sources of energy. If the grid goes down, your battery storage kicks in. If you've gone days without sunshine, you can access the traditional energy grid.

Here's a great article accounting the story of the first family in Australia to implement Tesla's Powerwall.  

So, how do you actually get solar power?

You two options: install solar panels, or engage an energy provider who provides solar power to the grid. Let's break down your options and the steps. 

Installing solar

Implementing solar panels (and optional battery systems) on your home or business will/can reduce your energy bill over the long term.

Your can either pay for the investment outright, utilise your state government’s various rebates, or leverage the growing market of green financiers like Brighte who allow you to borrow up to $30k to purchase energy efficient products (solar batteries, solar hot water, solar heating and cooling).  Financing can help you improve cash flow. 

We mentioned Brighte as a way of financing your solar system, but they'll also connect you to the best solar panel installers and technicians to get you up running properly. 

> Brighte for home owners

Switching energy providers

If you don't have the option of installing solar, there are now a handful of energy companies that give you the option to choose only green electricity for your home.

Here’s some questions to ask when you are thinking of switching providers.

  • Is the provider community owned?
  • Do they offer some options for 100% renewable electricity plans?
  • Do they actively support household solar?
  • Do they still buy energy from the open market where coal still dominates?

Let’s take a look at three sustainable energy providers.

DIAMOND ENERGY

Why do we like them?

  • Provides 100% clean, renewable energy to customers and never invests in coal, oil or gas
  • Owns over a thousand rooftop solar installations
  • Australian managed and employees owning more than 80% of the company shares
  • First retailer to offer an export tariff for home batteries

 Available in VIC, NSW, SA, QLD.

Amber Electric

Why we like them:
  • Offer 100% renewable electricity plans
  • Does not mark up electricity prices, just charges a minimal monthly flat rate
  • Encourage customers to use power when renewable generation is high

Available in NSW, SE QLD, SA, VIC, ACT.

Enova

Enova Energy

Why we like them:

  • Provide 100% clean, renewable energy to customers and never invests in coal, oil or gas
  • Social enterprise which gives half of their profits (after tax and reinvestment) back to the community via energy efficiency, education and community projects

Available in NSW and SE QLD

Have you made the switch to a sustainable energy provider recently, or has this article sparked motivation to do more research? Share your experience with us via @tripod_coffee, we would love to hear your stories!

If you've stumbled across this and you aren't familiar with Tripod Coffee, we're Australia's most responsible coffee. We offer Nespresso® compatible pods and specialty instant coffee. Shop here

Learn more about energy providers in Australia and where their power is sourced from via Greenpeace’s Green Electricity Guide.

NB: If your goal is to drive down your energy bill, consuming less is usually the best tactic. Think: energy efficient appliances, turning your lights off when you are not using them, only using your heater when necessary, unplugging appliances when you are away for an extended period of time, sealing windows and any leaks found to store the heat inside your household, and hand drying your clothes.

As a final note, these are just a few of the more sustainable energy providers. Please do your own research to better understand financial products, fees and benefits, associated.

Resources:
https://www.greenelectricityguide.org.au/#rankings
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-11/shell-powershop-acquisition-angry-customers-green-energy/100689222
https://regenpower.com/articles/which-renewable-energy-is-better-wind-or-solar/
https://350.org.au/press-release/big-three-energy-companies-dominate-australias-carbon-pollution/
https://www.sustainableschools.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/understanding-solar-feed-in-credits.pdf
www.diamondenergy.com.au
https://www.enovaenergy.com.au/
https://www.goingsolar.com.au/what-we-do
https://thunderbird.asu.edu/thought-leadership/insights/5-challenges-renewable-energy
https://brighte.com.au/homeowners/green-loan
https://captaingreen.com.au/are-solar-panels-sustainable/
https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/industry/installers