Eduhelpnet World Education Forum Australia Science Teachers Association Tasmania

How Can I Make a Difference? 

energy consumption graph

The graph above shows the relative proportions of fossil fuel based energy used in an average Australian Home. Ideally we need to reduce the amount of fossil fuel based energy we use to reduce the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by our demands for this energy.

If we can reduce our demand in some areas personally then we are helping in some way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we are responsible for and so assist the mitigation of climate change.

At Home
Climate change may be a big problem, but there are many little things we can do to make a difference. If we try, most of us can do our part to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that we put into the atmosphere. Many greenhouse gases come from things we do every day.

As we have learned, these greenhouse gases trap energy in the atmosphere and make the Earth warmer.

Driving a car or using electricity is not wrong. We just have to be smart about it. Some people use less energy by carpooling. For example, four people can ride together in one car instead of driving four cars to work.You can car pool travelling to school also. Talk with your parents about it. Here are some additional ways you can help make the planet a better place!.

Read
Learning about the environment is very important. There are many good books that will help you learn. To get started, use the links on this web site. You also can look at the Links page to find other good web sites with information about the environment and climate change.

Save Electricity
Whenever we use electricity, we help put greenhouse gases into the air. By turning off lights, the television, and the computer when you are finished using them, you can help a lot. Making sure you turn off appliances at the wall instead of leaving them on stand-by is a good way to start. Do a survey of your home. Howmany red LED lights can you find? Make this known to your family and resolve to limit the number that must have permanent electricity supply to make them functional.
 

Bike, Bus, and Walk
You can save energy by sometimes taking the bus, riding a bike, or walking. Car sharing is another good way of saving energy. Join with a group of other families who live in your district and share travel to school.
 

Talk to Your Family and Friends
Talk with your family and friends about climate change. Let them know what you've learned.Resolve to make a difference as a family by making your own family plan.
 

Plant Trees
Planting trees is fun and a great way to reduce greenhouse gases. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the air. Their growth stores carbon within the tree. It's twice as much as what you see above the ground, so trees are a natural way of helping to use the carbon dioxide in the air. Trees give us oxygen in greater amounts than they use carbon dioxide. Talk to your teacher at school about a tree planting project. If every student in your school planted a tree every year, what a great difference it would make. You might be able to get a local company to help you by providing the money for tree purchase. Better still and great fun. Learn how to collect seed from the trees that grow naturally in your district and germinate them yourself.  


Recycle
Recycle cans, bottles, plastic bags, and newspapers. When you recycle, you send less trash to the landfill and you help save natural resources, like trees, oil, and elements such as aluminum.
 

When You Buy, Buy Cool Stuff
There are lots of ways we can improve the environment. One of the ways to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that we put into the air is to buy products that don't use as much energy. By conserving energy, we help reduce climate change and make the Earth a better place. Some products – like certain cars and stereos – are made specially to save energy.

 

Grow your own vegetables

Growing your own vegetables at home can be great fun and highly nutricious. An added bonus is that it saves the carbon dioxide produced in transporting your share to the supermarket. Follow the link below to see the vegetables I grow in my home garden.

 

 

The 100 Mile Diet: It's Simple

It’s a living experiment in local eating that will reconnect you with your food, your local farmers, the seasons, and the landscape you live in.
The idea has caught on in a way that no one could have predicted.
Since we started writing about our year of local eating, we’ve heard from individuals, families, and organized groups working to bring eating home in places as wide-ranging as Australia, northern Canada, and mid-winter Minnesota.
It’s the next frontier of food.More information here.

Some Things to Think About
Did you know that you can help the environment if you buy recyclable products instead of non-recyclable ones? Look for the recycle mark – three arrows that make a circle – on the package. Recyclable products are usually made out of things that already have been used. It usually takes less energy to make recycled products than to make new ones. The less energy we use, the better.
 

Solar Energy
Imagine that it's a hot summer day. You put a scoop of ice cream on the sidewalk, and it melts. Why? Well, you probably know that the sun causes the ice cream to melt. But you may not know that the sun produces solar energy. Solar energy is a fancy way of saying "energy that comes from the sun." Solar energy can be used to heat homes, buildings, water, and to make electricity. Today, many houses in Australia take advantage of the sun's energy.
 

Cars
Cars are an important part of life for most people. But cars also cause pollution and release a lot of greenhouse gases into the air. Fortunately, there are some cars that are better for the environment. These cars can travel longer on a smaller amount of fuel. They don't pollute as much, either. Using these kinds of cars can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the air.
 

ENERGY STAR®
Many things, like computers, TVs, stereos, and VCRs, have special labels on them. The label says "Energy" and has a picture of a star. Products with the ENERGY STAR® label are made to save energy. Buying products with ENERGY STAR® labels will help protect the environment. Visit The ENERGY STAR® website.

Our Green Home

Not everyone has the chance to start again. We were fortunate that we planned a home with an architect who gave us some great ideas to make it energy efficient.

Architect: Lez Penzes

Builders: Vos Construction & Joinery Pty Ltd.

Our new home at Windermere, Tasmania, a rural subdivision within the City of Launceston, incorporates many passive design and green technology features.

The selection of materials and construction systems are aimed to balance thermal performance, embodied energy, operational energy and reasonable construction cost. It is a timber framed  home paneled in Exon panel with a corrugated zinc alume steel roof. It features an elevated concrete ground floor slab and double glazing to all external glass, with the exception of corner windows, where Comfort Plus film was used as double glazing was not an available option.

The layout maximises winter sunlight to the north and takes advantage of views to the East, South and West along the Tamar River valley. Outside 1 metre wide eaves help keep out summer sunlight whilst still allowing winter sun to penetrate and warm the thermal mass.

The floor plan was devised to allow almost constant breezes to ventilate every habitable space naturally using a combination of window types. Awning windows allow adequate circulation of air even during rain.

Heating is a hydronic design by Siddons, generating hot water for the bathroom from a condenser that takes heat from the air of the garage and transfers it to a 320 litre hot water system. This is then circulated through the concrete slab by a small circulation pump that runs for 12 hours maximum per day allowing adequate hot water for showers in the morning. This design is an approved rebatable technology registered by Greenpower.

Built by Vos Construction & Joinery Pty Ltd in 2007, the home has several insulation types to improve performance such as a layer of concertina batts in the rafters and baggy foil sarking in the external walls. External wall panels are Exon panel. A Biocycle sewerage system allows recirculation of all water to the 1 hectare garden area. A 1 megalitre dam at the top of the property allows adequate water for fruit and other garden and also supports 100 Pinot Noir grape vines.

One of the major considerations in building the home was passive solar design, which uses the shifting position of the Sun throughout the year to draw in warmth in winter and exclude heat in summer. This  involved limiting windows on the western side of the house because afternoon sunlight is hotter; positioning living areas that are open to the north to take advantage of the winter sunlight; and extending eaves to protect windows and doors from the overhead Sun in summer.

Tasmanian architect Les Penzes also identified the source and direction of natural breezes for passive ventilation, and ensured that windows, doors, floor and roof vents can capture the wind so that it enters and exits the home naturally. Both these design approaches reduce the need for energy intensive air-conditioning and heating.

Materials are equally important, because they can have a significant impact on the need to heat or cool a home. One example is "thermal mass" in the form of concrete, bricks and tiles, which can absorb the Sun's heat during the day and release it at night- a natural process known as re-radiation, that reduces heating costs in winter.

Meanwhile installing the correct type of insulation in appropriate places can help retain or deflect warmth or 'cool' depending on the season.

When designing a home you need to ask how can we use climate to heat and cool our home? Once you have exhausted what you can use for free to achieve energy and environmental performance, then you can top up the design with strategic elements- both passive and active- such as hydronic heating to achieve a comfortable environment inside.


Accredited Greenpower Providers