CoolComfort Tips

Hi [[firstname]],
Welcome to this edition of 'CoolComfort Tips'.

A short newsletter giving practical advice on minimising your energy for heating and cooling focusing on low cost easily implemented ideas.

If buying a refrigerative air conditioner don't forget to check the size required by using a SureCool Air Conditioner Selector


Save energy and improve comfort with the right chair

An old style upholstered chair with upholstered arms and enclosed legs will insulate your back more than a conventional chair and will increase your winter comfort. You may well find you can set your thermostat down slightly (saving about 7% of energy use for every degree cooler you set the thermostat).

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Should we prohibit the sale of inefficient appliances?

The recent federal government decision to phase out the use of incandescent globes, has again raised the question of whether we should ban inefficient appliances. The Productivity Commission in last years 'inquiry into energy efficiency' generally argued against such action. Other economists for example John Quiggin (University of Queensland) argue differently.

To some extent the theoretical basis of the approach of the economists for and against government intervention is not huge. They both recognise that there are 'market failures'. An example is where a tenant pays for the power, but the owner pays for the air conditioner. The owner has very little incentive to invest in an efficient air conditioner, whereas for the tenant the savings from a more efficient air conditioner will be significant. The main difference is the amount of rigor that the economists want before they will take action. The productivity commission asks for extremely strong proof that the intervention is warranted. This requires expensive and time consuming research which delays any introduction. Other economists look at the risks, and say if the risk of no action appears to be noticeably greater than the risk of taking action, then lets use our common sense and do it now.

In fact a number of barriers to energy efficiency identified by the Commission in my mind do justify phasing out incandescent bulbs. Technically the economists call it 'the cost of imperfect information', but what they mean in this case is that we, as individuals, don't want to waste brain space thinking about whether we should buy compact fluorescent globes or not, so most people just do what they have always done, namely buy energy inefficient globes. Since the payback is typically a few months, and the additional cost when purchasing a new globe is typically less than $10, common sense says let's 'just do it', particularly as there are schemes to help low income people install compact fluorescents in most areas.

Some of the comments made in this debate have been rather amusing. One commentor on the Australian's story says'If incandescent lightbulbs really cause so much environmental harm, which is in a way silly, since its the coal thatís burnt to power them which in fact pollutes...' -well yes, but if you don't need to burn the coal...

If you have any comments please contact us.

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Saving lighting energy

Instead of buying incandescent globes, buy the new compact fluorescent globes. Most sizes are now available for under $10. If you simply buy them instead of traditional globes each time you need to replace a globe (or better yet make sure you have at least one of each size in the cupboard), you will soon find you have changed your whole house over to the energy efficient globes. One additional suggestion is that you may find you have to go one size up on the manufacturer's recommendation. In other words you may need to replace a 75W incandescent globe with a 20W compact fluorescent which is claimed to be equivalent to a 100W globe. The saving might not be quite as much, but will still be around 75%. Because they last much longer, once you have changed your whole house over, the amount you spend on globes will be similar or less, so the energy saving will be free! Finally, on a hot evening, you won't be adding as much heat to the rooms, so your air conditioner won't have to work as hard, saving you twice!

When choosing compact fluorescents, it is worth trying to get either natural white/daylight (5000-6500K) or warm white (3000-3500K) globes as they are easier on the eyes than the more common ones which have a harsher tint. Supermarkets often have a limited range, so you may need to try a lighting or hardware store.

If you have halogen downlights, consider replacing the globes with high efficiency halogens. Typically you should be able to replace standard 50W halogens with 35W high efficiency globes, reducing energy use by 30%. How you operate the lights also determines your energy use. For example:

Safety of compact fluorescent globes

Compact fluorescents do contain a small amount of mercury (currently around 5 milligrams compared to say 500 milligrams in a mercury thermometer). They are safe, but if you inadvertently break the glass in a compact fluorescent globe you should:

Disposal of compact fluorescent globes

Wherever possible, dispose of compact fluorescent globes through a scheme which properly extracts the mercury and recycles or disposes of it safely. Unfortunately these schemes are not nationwide and can be difficult to find. Start by contacting your local council. If you don't have ready access to an appropriate scheme, you can put them in your rubbish (but not the recycle bin). The amount of mercury released to the environment is less than the amount that would have been released to the environment from the extra coal that would have been needed to power a conventional incandescent light.

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