It is interesting to see the effect of Melbourne's current extreme heat on electricity demand, with power demands soaring and many Victorians without power as our electricity grid struggles to supply peak demands.
Victorians use about 6,600 MW of electricity on a typical summer day, with heat waves in multiple states pushing the capacity of our electricity grid to the limit. The Australian Energy Market Operator forecast that Victorians would use about 10,150 megawatts of electricity on Wednesday, 10,400 MW on Thursday and around 10,200 MW today.
That is a whopping 55% increase demand brought about by the hot weather!
These peak demands are mainly due to the impact of the air-conditioning Victorians have installed, as technology has become more affordable and the comfort expectations of Australians have risen.
And here our own little local feedback-loop begins - we increase our CO2 emissions ..... which makes the planet hotter ..... which requires more air-conditioning ..... which increases our CO2 emissions ..... etc.
So the question is, do we really need this air-conditioning?
We put forward we are moving into an era of experiencing the effects of climate change at an alarming rate, which we will be blogging more about over the next few months. Science is telling us this extreme heat is going to become more common, with local impacts reflected in the predicted days above 35° each year for Melbourne. Historically this is 9 days per year, with the Federal Government predicting it will increase to 26 days per year by 2070.
With heat waves having serious health effects on the frail and elderly, we believe buffering and cooling the spaces we live in is going to be necessary to live a modern western lifestyle, in the world we have created. The day of the Black Saturday fires in 2009 saw the heat contribute to over 300 deaths in the state and a melt down of our emergency health services. While the emergency services and outdoor workers will continue to suffer discomfort and a productivity loss in hot weather, we do have smarter options for cooling our indoor work spaces and homes.
This presents the challenge of how can we stay cool in extreme temperatures without further adding to the frequency of extreme weather events?
The good news is that we can get smarter about the way we live. Properly insulated and sealed buildings are a key to creating houses that are able to buffer out the extremes of both hot and cold weather. Investing in a well designed, high thermal performance building fabric (outer shell) allows Habitech houses to remain comfortable with radically reduced active heating and cooling - lowering electricity demands by around 80%.
Herein lies the opportunity to reduce our energy demands, while maintaining comfort, saving on energy bills and contributing to lowering the peak demands on our electricity
We see it as timely reminder of what drives us to provide solutions for modern living that offer a hope of leaving an asset of use and value to our grandchildren - or maybe that could just be children?