Up until a few weeks ago I was a blogging virgin. Now I can’t even take a long weekend off without jotting down some notes, or should I say frustrations, as I constantly read about issues regarding energy in the newspaper. From summer blackouts here in Australia to the soaring cost of utility bills, it’s seems to be a constant narrative.
For that reason, it was after reading the Herald Sun and an Easter Monday story about the impact of increased energy costs, that I just had to take a break from family festivities (some would say opportunistically escape the visiting in-laws) to blog.
In case you were too busy finishing off your Easter Eggs and didn’t see it, the Herald Sun reported that Victorian households are suffering from “record levels of energy stress after years of runaway price increases”. Essentially in Victoria, we are struggling to pay our electricity and gas bills. It’s not surprising as at the start of the year “key retailers” lifted electricity prices by up to 15% and gas prices went up by between 4 and fourteen per cent. What was the result of such big price hikes? The Herald Sun say that around 1000 Victorian houses a week are being cut off over unpaid utility bills. The figures to go with the report are even more disturbing. It stated that “an unprecedented number of customers in energy hardship programs now owe a staggering 62.2 million as they struggle to meet the escalating costs”. The numbers of houses being cut off weekly is up 50% on the same time last year.
This information prompted me, not for the first time, to retreat to a corner with my Apple Mac. How can this be, in this day and age? While double glazing has been standard practice in Europe since the early 90s (latest), it is constantly ignored by both retailers and the general public in Australia as a resolution. When I lived in the UK, double glazing was all about living in comfort and keeping the cold out. Here in my adopted home of Australia (where for the record I believe the general public is a lot more environmentally conscious) sustainability in housing shouldn’t be a luxury, it’s got to be the first consideration. If the number of customers being cut off due to inability to pay their bills has risen by 50% in just one year, what percentage will it rise to next year, or in ten years? Is there a figure at which point we will start taking notice? Perhaps this percentage increase won’t be witnessed again for years, but can we afford to wait and see?
My answer is no. While insulation is a more popular choice for energy conscious home owners, installing it without double glazing windows and doors means that you are essentially leaving gaping holes all over your house. It’s been proven that 30% of all energy is lost through windows and doors. It’s a statistic that we here in Australia can no longer afford to ignore. So, I implore of you, whether you’re energy conscious or just don’t have unlimited cash to donate to energy companies, make that investment in your home now. You’ll be glad you did in the future.