How electrifying your life could save you thousands

A novel plan to ‘electrify everything’ in our lives could see Australian living costs slashed by up to $5000 a year while reducing carbon emissions at the same time.

Electricity bills in Australia are now among the highest in the world and  make up a significant percentage of a family’s yearly budget.

Another large chunk of that budget goes towards running the car (or cars). Between fuel prices and the cost of regular maintenance, our vehicles are also a big drain on the hip pocket.

But an Australian-born PhD engineer has developed a plan that involves replacing our petrol-powered cars and gas-powered homes with electric alternatives.

Read: Your household power bills could be 15 per cent cheaper

Dr Saul Griffith, founder of Rewiring Australia (RA), is working as an adviser on electrification to US president Joe Biden’s administration. A RA report shows that electrifying our households could save an average of $5000 per year on electricity bills and vehicle running costs.

“The future looks like vastly cheaper energy, better homes and nicer cars,” Dr Griffith says.

“No nation is better placed to seize this opportunity for cheaper energy, self-reliance and cleaner air than Australia.

“Australians already lead the world in harvesting solar electricity. Now we have the technology available to use it. With modest public investment in our homes, cars and communities, we can electrify everything without sacrificing our way of life.”

The Castles & Cars: Savings in the suburbs through electrifying everything report uses data that predicts the cost of electric vehicles, appliances and batteries will drop dramatically in coming years.

Read: Quick-charging, inexpensive battery may change driving forever

It estimates that electrifying Australian households could reduce domestic emissions by up to 33 per cent by 2030.

He has identified four areas are key for household electrification, the Australian Financial Review reports.

  • increase adoption of solar and increase average rooftop solar size
  • encourage widespread adoption of household batteries
  • subsidise EVs and charging networks
  • replace gas heaters, cooktops and gas water heaters with efficient devices such as induction hotplates and heat pumps through point of purchase rebates.

Many car makers have already announced plans to cease producing petrol-powered cars. These aren’t small brands either, with the likes of Ford, Honda, Jaguar and Volvo committing to producing an entirely electric line-up.

Our cousins across the ditch have even introduced a tax on petrol-powered vehicles that will take effect next year. It’s seems only a matter of time before petrol vehicles are pushed out of the market.

Inside our homes, many appliances are already electric. But there are three key areas where this is often not the case – gas stovetops, gas hot water heaters and gas heating systems.

Induction stovetops use a combination of electricity and magnets to produce heat that’s on par with what a gas stove can produce. They are far more energy-efficient than traditional electric and gas stovetops.

Read: Five best ways to cut power costs

In the past, replacing your gas hot water heater with an electric model was seen as an inferior option. You were often left with a smaller supply of hot water that may or may not heat up again that day.

But electric hot water heaters have come a long way since then. Endless hot water is now the norm with instantaneous electric hot water systems. In these systems, water is drawn directly from the mains and heated instantly as it passes through the unit. No heated water stored in a tank means no more showers going cold.

It’s more than possible to replace gas-powered appliances and petrol-powered vehicles and retain the same quality of life. Add in the thousands in savings and emissions reductions and electrifying the nation seems like a good option.

Dr Griffith says the federal government should “turbocharge” its systems of subsidies and loans by allowing households to borrow money at the same price as the Commonwealth when it builds major infrastructure.

The ABC offered the following case study.

Pensioners Linda and Neville Hicks, who have lived in their public trust home for 27 years, had their home modernised to be a “virtual power plant” (VPP) with solar panels and a home battery.

“It has made a difference to us in regard to our power,” Ms Hicks told 7.30. “Our electricity bills are lower, which is a bonus for us. And also we’ve got the battery, which if we have power cuts, then obviously we won’t be without power.”

They said the changes involved no upfront costs, paid for by a combination of state and federal grants – because they are participants in a Tesla VPP trial, which also feeds power to the electricity grid.

Would you be interested in replacing your gas appliances with electric ones? Would you give up your petrol-powered car? Let us know in the comments section below.

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