Thursday, 21 July 2016 15:00

Aussies want to lead sustainable lives if it is not too hard

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Australians want to live a more sustainable life but don’t know where to start. The fact is there are simple things we can do towards this at home — including using technology  and feel better by helping to save the planet and money too.

Swedish flat-pack furniture designer IKEA has released its Australia People & planet positive report 2016, revealing Australians have an overwhelming desire to create a more sustainable home. But while they desire and aspire they feel that this is too hard to adopt, that it’s expensive, and they don’t know where to start.

The Australian report is a good read and has many findings:

Sustainability in the home

  • 63% have a desire for more sustainabability at home.
  • 50% don’t know where to start.
  • 39% find sustainability completely overwhelming.

Cost of sustainability

  • Cost (52%) and not knowing how (44%) were identified as key barriers to sustainability at home across all age groups, with 66% of millennials aged 18-24 agreeing
  • 57% of Australians are aware of the cost and time-saving benefits of being sustainable
  • 48% in total, and 59% of millennials have expressed the need for help at home
  • With 26% of Australians believing there are no cost-saving benefits to more sustainability at home, IKEA has revealed that:
    • Households in Australia throw away $1036 worth of food a year with 26% admitting to letting food go bad each week
    • A water saving tap can save you money, as well as the equivalent of 260 baths of water a year
    • Swapping a light bulb to LED can save consumers purchasing around 22 traditional light bulbs

IKEA Australia created a pop-up, uniquely-designed space called the IKEA Sustainability Studio, located at Central Park Sydney – a complete representation of a sustainable apartment, designed by IKEA Australia.

It demonstrated how easy it is to make simple changes: swapping a light bulb, using less water, or even introducing sustainable material into your soft furnishings at home can make a big difference and save money.

Richard Wilson, sustainability manager, IKEA Australia, said “We want to help our customers live a more sustainable life at home. We believe by working together; we can make a big difference to our environment, as well as to our customers’ hip pockets. Sustainability is not a new concept at IKEA Australia. Doing more with less has always been part of our DNA.”

IKEA Australia is making sustainability even more affordable, lowering the price on key energy and water-saving and waste sorting solutions, and providing healthy living products for its customers. In FY15, IKEA became the first major global retailer to achieve a 100% sustainable cotton milestone after 10 years of proactive work to make it the norm for the entire industry. All of the cotton in IKEA Australia products, including soft furnishings, bedding, towels, and rugs, now comes from more sustainable sources.

And how do you use tech to help sustainability?

All tech uses energy – TVs, computers, monitors, Internet of Things devices and home appliances. It costs x cents per kilowatt hour – typically 30 cents.

The short answer is to invest in things like central and remote switching to turn off devices that will not be affected by “unscheduled” power shutdowns. For example, most smart devices like computers, Wi-Fi routers, TVs, Blu-ray, Foxtel, and similar equipment will not be damaged by a shutdown. Rebooting time is, however, a few seconds to minutes for most.

For example, Belkin makes the WeMo switch that can be controlled by motion or an app. Sure, at $99.95 each, it is going to take a few years to cover the capital investment, but it’s a start. They also have Smart LED light bulbs and light switches.

And replacing older computing devices with newer ones will save heaps. For example, the latest Samsung 27” curved monitor uses just 133kWh per year – less than about 10% of the power used by a typical five-year-old LCD monitor and we won’t even try to compare it with a power-hungry CRT. Mind you, there are some new models that use even less power.

Power use does not just extend to devices and lights. Smart thermostats will pay for themselves very quickly, especially in cold climates, because they can be set to activate on a schedule, or by motion, or remotely by an app, or even to use “if this, then that” logic to open and close curtains and control internal temperatures. Smart thermostats can use machine learning to extract maximum temperature control from minimum expenditure.

And then there is Aussie firm Redflow that has developed a world-class home storage battery called ZCell. When coupled with a Redback inverter — another Aussie company and a solar panel system you may never have to pay for electricity again. iTWire has details here.

So it is not too hard – it just takes time and deeper pockets.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw [email protected]  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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