Household Sustainability

Household Sustainability

Challenges and Dilemmas in Everyday Life

Chris Gibson, Carol Farbotko, Nicholas Gill, Lesley Head and Gordon Waitt

The authors engage critically, and constructively, with the proposition that households are a key scale of action on climate change. They confront dilemmas of practice and circumstance, and cultural norms of lifestyle and consumerism that are linked to troublesome environmental problems – and question whether they can be easily unsettled. The work also illuminates the informal and often unheralded work by households – frequently the poorest – in reducing their environmental burden. This important book is critical to understanding both the barriers to household sustainability and the ‘unsung’ sustainability work carried out by householders.

Chapter 15: Solar hot water

Chris Gibson, Carol Farbotko, Nicholas Gill, Lesley Head and Gordon Waitt

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, climate change, environmental economics, environmental sociology

Extract

In more affluent countries hot water, like toilets (Chapter 6), mattresses (Chapter 8) and refrigerators (Chapter 12), is one of those things that gets noticed more when it fails than when it works. When, as is often the case for hot water systems, they reach the end of their useful lives suddenly, property owners find themselves having to make a quick decision about a replacement system. In the past the default in many countries was a standalone electric hot water storage system, composed of an insulated tank heated by an electric element. Installing such high energy use, high greenhouse gas producing systems took little thought, except that needed to find the plumber’s phone number. This is no longer the case. Governments of various persuasions have targeted hot water heating as a major area of reform for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In Australia, from 2010 the federal, state and territory govern- ments (except Tasmania) are working together to phase out greenhouse- intensive (electric) water heating systems, with the aim of decreasing emissions by 51.1 million tons over ten years from 2010 to 2020. This is the equivalent of taking 1.4 million cars off the road during the same period and should deliver 4 per cent of Australia’s current projected greenhouse gas abatement by 2020 (DCCEE 2012a). Property owners are now forced to consider a range of alter- native hot water systems. In Australia as elsewhere, the options include several different solar hot water system designs, gas instantaneous systems, air source heat pumps, and gas storage systems. The choice is yours.

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