Saturday, March 31, 2007


Everyone who owns an air-conditioner knows they are expensive to run, especially for cooling large areas. That's why I opted for SmartPower when our air-conditioning was installed about 10 years back. A smart power meter encourages electricity users to shift consumption to periods of off-peak demand.

Here's how it works. The standard electricity tariff in Western Australia is 13.94 cents/unit (kilowatt hour) 24/7. The SmartPower tariff varies according to time of day and day of the week: Off-peak - 6.56 cents/unit, Weekend Shoulder - 9.84 cents/unit, Weekday Shoulder - 13.12 cents/unit and Peak - 20.22 cents/unit. The demand periods also vary according to season: for example, from October through March the peak tariff applies from 11:00am - 5:00pm; over winter the periods of peak tariff are 7:00am - 11:00am and 5:00pm - 9:00pm. The off-peak (lowest) tariff is always in effect from 9:00pm - 7:00am, however.

So all of my energy intensive activities -- cooling and heating, clothes washing and drying, dish washing and water heating (it's on a timer) -- take place between 9:00pm and 7:00am when the tariff is lowest (I try to cook, where practical, during shoulder periods). Adjusting time of electricity use requires some planning and isn't always convenient (like when it's really hot but I won't use the air-conditioning until after 9:00pm because I'd rather pay 6.56 cents/unit than 20.22 cents/unit) but SmartPower has saved me heaps of money on my electricity bills over the years. Not only that, by shifting my power use to off-peak periods I've helped lessen the burden on the power grid.

This made me feel all warm and fuzzy when I read this:
Energy Australia's efficiency guru Paul Myors says peak demand, or peak load, is a "forgotten issue" now that energy efficiency and greenhouse emissions receive so much attention. "It's peak demand that drives the need for new electricity infrastructure, power stations, transmission lines and things like that," he says. The more peaks you have in energy-use, the more need there may well be for extra coal-burning power stations.

"Peak demand is growing faster year-to-year than energy use." Especially now that most houses have air-conditioners.
The best I can tell, SmartPower is yet to be adopted by the more progressive Eastern-staters -- according to the old joke, WA stands for Wait Awhile. Anyway, it seems to me a push for SmartPower would accomplish a Hell of a lot more than turning off Sydney's lights for one hour.

Note: If SmartPower or some such is available in the East I expect someone will tell me.


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