Community is an amazing thing! When Mosman Council decided to restart its arts and crafts market (after a COVID hiatus) a team of ZESN volunteers sprang into action to organise a stall. As well as a range of information brochures, we had three electric cars on display across the day, electric bikes available to try out, a variable speed pool pump and demonstrations of house energy audit kit. HUGE THANKS to everyone who worked so hard, and to Mosman Council for their ongoing support and encouragement. 10/10 would recommend!

Three Zero Emissions Volunteers
The Sunglasses Team: Louise, Lesley and Fay
Young volunteer Mosman Market
Our youngest volunteer, Theo, demonstrates how to measure household energy consumption.

We know we need to do things differently to reduce our emissions. We know we need to change. But how?

“It’s really difficult to talk to adults and ask them to change,” says Jenni Hagland, leader of Zero Emissions Schools program. “I had this epiphany one day at the bakery. There was an adult in line with his bread bag. I said, ‘Oh, that’s amazing,’ and he said, ‘My kids make me do it, I don’t want to.’

“It made me think: get the kids doing it, then their parents will change. It’s so much easier to get adults to change when their kids are involved.”

Jenni Hagland is new to ZESN but no newcomer to change-making. She has been directly involved in sustainability for more than a decade. In 2006 she began working for the Carbon Disclosure Project, a global NGO based in London, followed up by work for the CDP in Hong Kong. She moved to Sydney in 2016 and started the Mosman Public School Sustainability Club in 2018.

The club started small, fundraising for recycling bins, having ‘nude lunch’ challenges, turning off lights and installing LEDs. Then this April, after a year of planning and fund-raising, the school installed 50kW of solar panels on its roof. The system will provide 25% of the school’s electricity needs, saving $8,000 a year.

Now Jenni has joined Zero Emissions Sydney North to work on sustainability in schools across the region, starting with a new range of resources available from the Zero Emissions website. There are practical, step-by-step guides to forming a school sustainability team, revving up your recycling and active transport, and making sustainability a part of the curriculum. Plus there are inspiring case studies from Mosman Public School and Manly Selective showing how young people are making change happen, and benefitting their schools and communities at the same time.

“People overlook the impact kids have on their parents. You’re changing their behaviour at an early age, making them aware of the problem. These little people are going to turn into adults. I think it’s really important to make that not new or weird. It’s a part of their behaviour, and that will rub off at home, their parents will change, small business will respond to that, community will change.”

If you are inspired by these stories, if you want to help your school save money and carbon emissions, please get in touch.

 

A guest post from Robert Gavin and Di Elliffe, owners of Evie the Nissan Leaf, who recently took them all the way from Hobart to the Northern Beaches. Rob and Di participated in the Good Car Company‘s first community bulk buy.

We are not frequent car drivers. Our preference is for active transport – riding our electric bicycles and walking – around our hometown (Hobart) and when we are in Curl Curl we use our Brompton folding bicycles, and public transport for longer trips.

But, like most families, we occasionally find a car convenient … so when our existing fuel sipping car was due for a trade-in we took advantage of The Good Car Co bulk electric vehicle purchase of second hand imported Nissan Leaf sedans – and so Evie joined our household in May 2020.

The Good Car Co is a Tasmanian-based initiative giving Australians access to reliable, affordable second hand electric cars. Register here to find out how you could be part of their next bulk buy, or join us at ‘Accelerate your transition’, our free webinar on electric transport.

Evie is a 2017 Nissan Leaf with a 30kWh battery. When we bought her she had done 13,000 kilometres, and she cost $30,000 … effectively, almost a new car at just over half the price of a current model. Inside and out, she was in perfect condition, and The Good Car Co ensure the battery is at least 85% useable prior to purchase. The cost included purchase, shipping to Australia, conversion to Australian standards, and insurance while in transit – all handled by The Good Car Co.

Her first job was to help us move all our household goods into storage. The back seats fold down to provide a good volume of space (though a little odd in shape). Evie excelled at this task, quietly running to and from our store with countless loads of boxes. Around Hobart she averaged 7.2 kms per kilowatt hour (30 kWh battery, so a notional range of 210 kilometres, though in practice this was closer to 170 kms for us). We charged her at home where we had off street parking and access to a household power point and our own solar panels.

Her second job was to take us to Sydney in June. Being a city girl, a road trip was a bit of a stretch for a Leaf like Evie, but we quickly found that, as long as we were prepared to take it easy and enjoy the trip, the journey with Evie was a treat.

Icy start.
A cold morning in Campbelltown, Tasmania

We stayed in a small B&B in Campbelltown, Tasmania, to break our journey to Devonport where we caught the ferry. This had to be done because the distance between the fast chargers in Hobart and Launceston was greater than Evie’s range, so she needed a slow (overnight) charge somewhere along the way. On our return, this will not be a problem because Campbelltown now has its own fast charger.

Tesla has a network of chargers across Australia.
Making friends with a Tesla, Devonport, Tasmania

A fast charger will recharge her batteries from low to full in 20-30 minutes. An overnight charge on a domestic power point (10 amp) will take about 12 hours.

Charging an electric car from a household power point. Not fast, but you charge while you sleep.
Leisurely overnight charge at a guesthouse in Tasmania

In Melbourne we charged up in Coburg and headed North. Like Tasmania, Victoria does not have a well developed fast charging network yet (and it was very frustrating driving past countless petrol stations along the way to the next fast charger … When are we going to grasp the future?).

Using the app “Plugshare”, we plotted our trip based on available charging stations. In Victoria we stopped at Seymour Park (which had a 15 amp plug, effectively almost twice as fast as a 10 amp plug) and then at a fast charger in Euroa. The Seymour Park stop was for three hours, which allowed us to do a great walk along the Goulburn river while waiting … an EV gets you fit as well!

Travelling at speed is a big drain on the battery, and we found our optimum cruising speed with Evie turns out to be between 85 to 95 kph. At that speed we could achieve a theoretical 150 km range comfortably. Given the slower travel speed, if an alternative route was available we would always choose it over the freeway – and fortunately, the old Melbourne to Sydney road is still running close by for much of the trip. It winds its way through the countryside and it is a pleasant, quiet and comfortable alternative road to use.

After spending the night in Wangaratta we headed off into NSW via Albury. Once in New South Wales we were pleased to find that the NRMA has had the foresight to build a network of fast chargers to compliment the commercial chargers already available. As a result, plotting a route for an electric vehicle of Evie’s range all the way to Sydney is easily done. We stopped at Yass for the night, ready to head into our destination the next day after an overnight slow charge.

NRMA charger at Gundagai. Free to NRMA members.
The NRMA thinking about the future and installing fast chargers across the country

On average we were charging Evie up three times a day to allow for contingencies. Just as well, actually, because we had a minor drama at Tarcutta where a fast charger was not working properly and we could not charge up at all … so we had to drive relatively slowly to the dog on the tuckerbox (Gundagai) for our next charge.

While frequent fast charges are not a problem, doing four of them in one day, combined with fast driving at 110, almost sent the temperature of our batteries into the red zone (there is a temperature gauge for the batteries on the dashboard), so I learned to enjoy the slower pace the car is more comfortable with.

Entering Sydney, Evie came into her own and it was a pleasant drive through the suburban highways from the South up to Curl Curl. By the time we reached our destination she had reached 6.9 kms per kWh, nearly the same result as suburban driving around Hobart. It cost us just over $20 for energy for the entire trip (charging overnight at motels is included in the tariff, and NRMA fast chargers are free at the moment).

Living and driving around Curl Curl for three months, we have enjoyed having Evie there when we need her. In suburban Sydney she is now achieving 7.6 km per kWh and we charge her up during the day, at home, taking advantage of home solar to get free energy from the sun. We charge up about once a fortnight. Best of all, it is really satisfying to know we are travelling in Evie without contributing anything towards global warming.

The Nissan Leaf has five seats and a capacious boot.
Job done, Evie gets back to her normal routine, shopping at the local market.

Our shopping centre has given six priority spaces to electric vehicles (Stocklands, Balgowlah), so it is always easy to get a park there, and if we are going any distance (over 100 kms) there is always a fast charger somewhere along the way for a top up if necessary.

In summary, a 30kWh Leaf is an ideal runabout for everyday suburban driving. It is easy to drive and has more than enough energy for a full day of commuting. Being 100% electric, the mechanics are simple and reliable. Nissan also produce a small electric van which can come configured with five or seven “fold away” seats. These are also imported by The Good Car Co at a good price. Although second hand, these cars look and feel like new, and will easily pay for themselves in fuel savings over their life. If you must have more range, the newer Leaf models they import have 40kWh and 62kWh batteries which match petrol car ranges, but at an extra price.

The Good Car Co are a pleasure to deal with. Anthony, Anton and Sam are passionate about transitioning away from carbon based transport and they have worked out a successful business model that everyone (including the planet) benefits from.

Robert and Di are leaders in climate activism in Tasmania. They volunteer with Bicycle Network Tasmania and Coast Watchers and are setting up Australia’s first community owned electric vehicle carshare for an apartment block in Hobart. 

The Good Car Co is a Tasmanian-based initiative giving Australians access to reliable, affordable second hand electric cars. Register here to find out how you could be part of their next bulk buy, or join us at our next EV webinar, where Anthony and Anton will be our guest speakers.

**STOP PRESS** **STOP PRESS** **STOP PRESS** **STOP PRESS** **STOP PRESS**

Since publishing this post, we’ve been able to confirm three electric cars and four electric bicycles will be at our first stall at Mosman Arts and Crafts Market on Saturday October 3.  Come and see the Nissan Leaf and the Hyundai Kona (from 9.30am) and the Tesla (from 12.30pm) and chat to the owners about the driving experience.

For the curious, young and old, there will be hands-on exhibits, like a pool pump which could save you $100s of dollars, and a photovoltaic panel, converting the sun into power in real time. Plus have you seen the Tesla PowerWall battery in action? We’ve got an app for that, and you’re invited to come and play.

We’ll be there from 8am till 3pm, with information on ways to reduce your emissions ranging from rooftop solar to electric bikes to home efficiency tips. If you’re in the area, please drop by and say hello.

Many thanks to Mosman Council for their support, and don’t forget to sample the food, have a good coffee and browse the beautiful, hand-crafted jewellery, clothes and other treasures while you’re there.

Nearly 200 people joined Mosman Council’s online Climate Action Forum last night to hear a stellar panel of guest speakers and government representatives discussing climate resilience and responding to climate change.

The panel included: 

  • The Hon. Matt Kean MP, NSW Minister for Energy & Environment and Member for Hornsby
  • Zali Steggall OAM MP, Federal Member for Warringah
  • Felicity Wilson MP, Member for North Shore
  • Mosman Mayor Carolyn Corrigan
  • Professor David Schlosberg, Professor of Environmental Politics at the University of Sydney and Director of the Sydney Environment Institute
  • Professor Ruth Irwin, Team Leader Sustainability, Mosman Council.

Dominic Johnson, General Manager of Mosman Council was Master of Ceremonies. 

It was a lively forum with some insightful questions posed by audience members including representatives of Zero Emissions Sydney North. You can watch the complete forum here. 

Some highlights:

  • Zali Steggall MP explained how the proposed Climate Act will confirm a Federal net-zero-by-2050 target, which all States and Territories have already agreed to. She also discussed how legislation has helped successful climate action in countries such as conservative-governed-UK.
  • Professor David Schlosberg talked about Australia’s potential to be a renewable energy superpower
  • Matt Kean MP and Felicity Wilson MP spoke about NSW State based actions including the new renewable energy zones
  • Professor Ruth Irwin presented climate facts and solutions, and both Ruth and Mayor Carolyn Corrigan spoke about Mosman Council’s actions so far, including the 51 kW solar installation on the Marie Bashir Mosman Sports Centre as part of a Mosman-wide program to install solar on council owned buildings, LED upgrades planned for all street lights, and new resources to help individuals to take action, such as informational videos on solar, batteries and saving energy on the Council’s website, and discounted access to the Climate Clever app for all residents.

The panel spoke passionately about the need to support vulnerable people in our community who will be impacted by rising heat and unstable weather, and the urgency, the need to act now. They also urged people to use their democratic power to vote for climate action, and emphasized how important it was to consider politicians’ past voting records rather than their promises.

The panel ended with a video of a Q & A with local school students talking to Matt Kean and Felicity Wilson. The video makes it clear that young people are well across the facts and want to hear how we are switching to renewable energy, protecting our forests and animals, and creating renewable and sustainable jobs for their families and the students in the future.

Mosman Council also recently held three community workshops on climate, on mitigation, adaptation and resilience, and future scenarios. The three presentations from the workshops are available to view, along with a host of other videos, fact sheets, links and ideas for practical action on climate change.

To read more about Mosman Council’s climate action programs and initiatives, visit their website. And if you like what they’re doing, please tell them!

 

Did you know that most pool pumps run at more than twice the speed they need to for 99% of the time?

Chris Lee does. Chris is a volunteer with Zero Emissions Sydney North’s Home Energy Efficiency group and he has made a short video about how to dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your pool pump with a pool pump controller. It’s an easy fix which has an immediate impact on carbon emissions (and your electricity bill). If you’ve got a pool, it’s a no-brainer!

Check out Chris’s video here, and find further information below. 

If you’ve got a home energy efficiency idea, let us know or, better still, join us

Continue reading “Big savings for pool owners”

As it’s getting colder, we’re spending more time inside and our energy bills are going up. The perfect time to make some changes to reduce our energy consumption.

The Australian Energy Foundation recently ran a helpful webinar with a special focus on the top 2 energy vampires: Heating & cooling your house (40%) and hot water (23%). AEF’s top tips range from do-it-yourself fixes to investing in big-ticket items – such as reverse-cycle air conditioning for heating and heat pumps for hot water.

In our last post we covered the easy behavioural changes that you can use straight away. Now, some ways to make a big difference – to your bill and your carbon emissions.

Heating & Cooling

How to heat your house?

Reverse-cycle split-system air conditioning is now the most efficient and cheapest system to use. If you’ve got solar on your roof or are buying your power from a renewable electricity retailer, you can feel even better about your environmental footprint. Gas heaters are now second place with a bleak future: gas prices are going up and, as a fossil fuel, gas produces carbon emissions.

Find out more in AEF’s air con guide.

What about insulation?

Properly insulating your house can cut your heating/cooling bills by 40-50%! If your house was insulated before 2010, you should re-visit the roof space and see if you need to upgrade to better materials. Insulating your walls is expensive and only recommended as part of a reno project – you can do one room at a time.

Find out more in AEF’s insulation guide.

How do I prevent heat escaping from the house?

The average old Aussie home has cracks and gaps that amount to the equivalent of a football-sized hole in your wall! Get cracking and start fixing those cracks. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Seal door gaps with products from your favourite hardware store or a door snake
  • Close off your air vents – could be as simple as a piece of cardboard and duct tape
  • Use ‘No more gaps’ products to fill in the gap between your floorboards and skirting
  • Buy a ‘chimney sheep’ to seal your unused chimney

Need inspiration? Just follow the step-by-step videos “Green It Yourself” with Lish, Queen of Green.

And windows?

10-20% of heat escapes through windows, unless they have double-glazing. Some easy fixes:

  • Thick curtains that touch the floor with pelmets at the top.
  • Do-it-yourself double glazing: Put adhesive film on your window (check out Lish again) or even cheaper, use bubble wrap.

Hot Water

If your existing hot water system (gas or electric) bites the dust, replace it with a heat pump. Heat pumps can use up to 80% less energy than a standard electric tank. Start doing your research when your existing electric tank is about 8 to 9 years old (check age on the compliance plate on your tank) – they last about 10 years. Know exactly what you are going to buy when the old tank stops working.

Find out more in AEF’s heat pump guide.

Also check out simple behavioural changes that won’t cost you a cent but will reduce your heating and hot water costs.

You can view a recording of the recent AEF webinar or check out the presentation. Both are available online until 30 June.

If you’d like to share stories, volunteer, or just find out more about what we do, please contact us at hello@zerosydneynorth.org or sign up for our email newsletter.

Do stay in touch. We’re just getting started.

I have discovered a secret weapon in my quest to persuade people to make the switch to renewable energy. It’s called GADGETS!

We’ve had solar panels for nearly ten years now. 18 months ago we bought a Tesla 2 battery for $11,500 (which, as I now realise, was quite a bargain since prices have gone up this year). The installer, who did a great job, showed me how the app tells you exactly how much electricity you are consuming at any moment, and where that electricity is coming from. 

I didn’t realise at the time how powerful that insight could be. Three pictures


A sunny day in North Balgowlah
  1. A sunny day in November 2019

The big yellow mountain is solar energy, collected from our rooftop panels. The jagged line is our household energy consumption. (You can see that I made a cup of tea just before 8 a.m., and I ran the dishwasher and the washing machine in the morning.) Below the horizontal axis shows how the battery works: when the sun comes up excess solar energy feeds into the battery. It’s full by noon, so the grey area is excess energy flowing back to the grid (and earning a feed-in tariff). And you can see that, on this day, the battery powered the house right through till sunrise, so we were 100% self-powered.  ☺


Solar Offset
  1. Of course, the sun doesn’t always shine

But this screen shot shows that across 2019 we offset our usage — 8166 kWh — with 5473 kWh solar power from our roof. So a 67% reduction in our electricity bill and a 67% reduction in our carbon emissions. The retail price in NSW per kWh is 33c. So *furrows brow, doing sums* that’s $1806.09 in savings in 2019. Nice.

  1. What’s happening here?

This is a screenshot from March 2020 showing where our power is coming from. We’re in the middle of a powercut. The Tesla battery automatically takes over, so that the house can be independent of the grid, using power from the solar panels and, if needed, from the battery. WFH with no grid? No problem. 

We love checking on the app to see how much we are saving. But above all, this funky little app, with its visual representation of real time household electricity usage, is an amazing communications tool. Household power bills aren’t sexy but gadgets totally are. Therefore, my husband, even though he is not involved in environmental campaigning, gets a real kick out of showing his friends how we are helping ourselves to free energy (and helping the environment at the same time).

Do you have a battery? Do you have a story to tell about your journey towards zero emissions? Let us know by [best way to connect]