Cooking With Gas – WA Edition!

You may remember my post from late last year, which summarized the ATA report “Are we still cooking with Gas?

I sent them some feedback expressing my disappointment at WA not being included in the report. Lo and behold, they have now produced a complementary report on the WA gas scene!

Long story short, the results are on par with the previous report – we’re better off sticking with electric and buying energy efficient appliances.

Specifically:

  • New homes. It’s not cost effective to connect a new home to mains gas when efficient electric appliances are an option.  However, it is cost effective if  efficient electric appliances are not an option.
  • Existing all-electric homes. It’s not cost effective to connect an existing all-electric home to mains gas when efficient electric appliances are an option; however it is cost effective when efficient electric appliances are not an option. Furthermore, mains gas may be more cost effective when the cost of new appliances is heavily subsidised.
  • Existing dual-fuel homes. It is significantly more cost effective to replace gas heaters with multiple reverse cycle air conditioners for space heating than with gas.

The key thing that stands out to me is that you would only get cost savings if using energy-efficient appliances.

If this topic interests you, I’d encourage you to read the full report to understand the assumptions made and how it affects your individual situation. To be honest, I found some of the tables a bit confusing, but the explanatory text is pretty good.

My biggest criticism of the report would be that they used a heat pump as the comparative efficient electric appliance for water heating, however this is not commonly used in WA, we generally prefer boosted solar hot water systems. Also, at least one heat pump I’ve researched indicated that the warranty may be voided if the weather gets to over 45C, which happens in Perth from time to time.

How do I know if my appliance is energy efficient?

The energy rating sticker on the appliance indicates a rating out of 6 for energy efficiency. Super-efficient appliances can get up to 10 stars (some fridges and TVs).

Appliances that have an energy rating label up to 6 stars are considered ‘efficient’ while those above 6 stars are defined as ‘super-efficient’.

Energy rating label - Cooking with Gas

 

If you’re going to buy a bunch of new appliances, the official energy rating website has some tables you can search on. But to be honest, I found it a bit confusing when I tried to look for an electric hot water system, so a site like Choice might be easier to understand (although beware, they’ve recently redesigned their site!).

What about the environment?

The ATA also produced a separate but related report on the impact on carbon emissions by switching from gas to electric. While it focussed again on the eastern states, we can probably extrapolate the findings for Adelaide given the similarity in climate.

The key finding was that CO2 emissions were lowered when all 3 end-uses traditionally fuelled by gas (space heating, water heating, cooking)  were switched to efficient electric appliances, especially with regards to space heaters.

State was also important in determining the difference in emissions when switching from gas to efficient electric. Households in South Australia had one of the clearest emissions benefit for switching from gas to efficient electric appliances (44% reduction).

What this means for our build!

Environmental impact is an important consideration for us.

  • We will be using a solar powered hot water system.
  • We will be installing solar panels.
  • We will not be installing air conditioners or heaters (if we can help it!)
  • We will be using an induction cooktop and electric oven.

Realistically, the only thing we really need gas for is the bbq.

What this report does for us is affirms our decision to boost our solar hot water system using electricity rather than gas.

Now the challenge is on to find the hot water system! I’m still going to research heat pumps, but I’m not sold on their suitability for our climate.

 

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7 Comments:

  1. Oh wow, I was surprised to read you aren’t having any aircons or heating in your home. Good on you! There’s a lot of environmental thought that’s gone into your home – it could become the blueprint for the rest of us in the future 🙂

    • We have great expectations 🙂 (Hey, maybe that’s what I should have called my blog!) We’re going to do our utmost to avoid having to get aircond, and have promised ourselves to try it out for a year before deciding if we need it or not. I sincerely hope we don’t because I dislike the feeling of aircon on my skin (I might just be a little bit precious).

      • haha I think the name of your blog is just fine! I understand what you mean – I hate having the aircon on at night because it dries out my mouth, unfortunately it is the price to pay when you have married a man that can’t sleep unless it is Artic temperatures. Good luck. As you said, you can always cool off in the pool 😉

  2. Nicely summarised Trixee. Don’t heat pumps have to be installed very deep into the ground and require a lot of below ground space? And, since I know you cook, what do you think about using induction for a really good steak? I’m not sure I could forgo gas for that. Do you need to choose different pans?

    • Thanks Jo! I believe heat pumps are installed above ground, on a pad, in the same way as an air conditioner. The technology requires them to come in contact with the air to extract the heat from the air so it can be used for heating water. Here’s a good description: http://www.energymatters.com.au/solar-hot-water/solar-heat-pumps/
      As far as cooking goes, I’m more of a baker, Mr Trixee is the culinary genius in these parts 🙂 Induction cooktops are different to electric ones in that they heat up the cookware much faster. Apparently you can boil a litre of water in 2 minutes, as opposed to 8 minutes on an electric cooktop. I did a quick google about cooking a steak on induction and found this video: http://www.estrading.com.au/induction-cooking-how-to-cook-tender-steak-in-minutes/. Handy, because this is the one we’re thinking of getting. What I’ve learned from watching Mr T. cook a steak, is that the meat should be at room temperature before cooking, and the frypan should be as hot as possible. Then he finishes it off in the oven and rests it appropriately. Anyhoo, Choice also has a number of articles on induction cooktops: https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/kitchen/cooktops/reviews-and-tests/induction-cooktops. You may not need to change your cookware, the rule of thumb is if you take a common magnet and it attaches to the bottom of your pan, it can be used on induction. Hope that helps! 🙂

  3. Induction stoves are great. We have a small plug in one and it does heat up real quick. Sometimes too quick!
    I thought Evacuated tubes for hot water was the way to go? I like the idea of the combination pv and hot water solar…
    Hopefully Tesla will be announcing the new batteries for homes later this month…. Are you considering off grid?

    • I believe evacuated tubes and solar panels are roughly equal in terms of efficiency, but I could be wrong. It’s hard to get good information because of the pseudo-religious zeal out there when it comes to energy efficiency – everyone seems to have an opinion but not much in the way of fact to back them up. Add to that the effects of local climate and some perform better than others depending on how much sun you get. I would love to go off-grid for power, but I don’t think the economics are worth it at this point. Maybe in 10 years it could be a real option though? Although maybe by that time the big power companies will have woken up to renewables being far better than coal (or maybe I’m dreaming!).

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