How our electricity usage compares to others

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EnergyAustralia, the electricity supplier we use for our house in inner-city Sydney, has been doing a big promotion of their eWise online tool. To quote:

eWise is a free and exclusive online tool available to EnergyAustralia residential electricity customers. It compares your electricity usage to similar homes in your area and shows you where you could save money.

It’s great to see these kinds of initiatives. While they’re not perfect (more on this below), they help to the issues more mainstream, and hopefully give people constructive suggestions on what they can do.

Our stats

The at-a-glance comparison of our hose to 'other similar houses'.
The at-a-glance comparison of our house to ‘other similar houses’.

In the latest bill, we’re using an average of 10kWh per day, which is actually pretty good I think! During the year, our usage varies between 8 and 10kWh, depending on the season (more in winter than summer).

Some observations

In no particular order, some observations:

  • Who exactly are these “more efficient” homes? 29% less energy equates to 6-7kWh per day, which is impressively low!
  • While the comparison is good, the tips are weak. Turn off the lights — this isn’t exactly going to make much of a dent in the 29% difference.
  • Considering all the eco changes we’ve done (LED lights, no aircon, massive insulation, double & triple glazing, efficient appliances, etc), is there any practical way of closing the gap between us and the supposed best case?
  • EnergyAustralia is obviously only looking at electricity usage, leaving gas usage out of the picture, which doesn’t really make sense from an eco perspective.
  • Solar panels (which we have, and get the rebate for) aren’t considered at all.
  • While it is possible to fill in extra details about our house (do we have aircon? a pool?, etc) it’s still not clear how eWise determines the like-for-like comparisons it offers.

In short, the tool is broadly a good idea, and I’d encourage people to sign up, just for interest.

Can and should it be further improved: definitely yes. Hopefully they’re not planning to now just sit on what they’ve launched…

What do you think?

Are these types of online tools useful?
What could be done to make them more effective?

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4 thoughts on “How our electricity usage compares to others

    S said:
    June 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Im in a home of 3 in Marrickville. We regularly achieve 4. Last bill it was 4.01kwh per day and the same time last year it was 3.81kwh. I must admit, Im a bit of a stickler when it comes to household sustainability! We’ve got 1.5kw worth of solar panels on our roof too.

      James responded:
      July 3, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Nice one! I’m jealous of your superb energy usage, even with a home of 3.

      Of course, that’s exactly the reaction the eWise tool is trying to generate 🙂

      The buzzword for this is “nudge” economics, where people can be encouraged or influenced to do better things, without forcing them. It’s extremely trendy in government circles at the moment, particularly in the UK…

    Darren (Green Change) said:
    July 1, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Perhaps the “similar homes” are actually apartments or something? It’s hard to tell how they define “similar”.

    sansonlowe said:
    July 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Yeah James – we’re struggling with this as well. We’re clocking about 17kWh and we’re no where near as efficient as you. I know of super energy saving households where they turn off absolutely everything to avoid standby power consumption. E.g. No oven wall clocks, no microwave clock, no alarm clock/radio. Even the home wi-fi modem/router is turned off when the internet is not accessed. It is very hardcore however I believe this makes life very inconvenient.

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