Beyond the ballot box; why your quest for a better future shouldn’t stop after May 18
Although the word ‘election’ in Australia has probably lost its meaning over the past couple of years thanks to our government’s unparalleled number of leadership spills, it is still important to continue to exercise our right to vote in order to have a say in our nation’s future and prosperity.
While most of us will be happy to see the plethora of party political ads fall by the wayside after May 18 (and let’s hope they don’t return for at least three years), it’s important to remember that whichever way you vote, electing a government is only a first step towards achieving change.
On the subject of change, climate change has been one of this election’s hottest topics with all parties, who (rightly so) want to tackle the negative impacts that are happening as a result. The droughts and floods experienced across the country in the past 12 months suggest that our climate is undergoing a catastrophic transformation and, while it’s easy to turn a blind eye now, generations to come will not have that luxury and will be forced to face up to our mistakes and naivety.
The link between climate change and the energy sector is strong. As demand for energy increases, so too do greenhouse gas emissions. Paired with progressive temperature increases, an increasing number and severity of extreme weather events and changing precipitation patterns, we are increasingly being hit by energy price rises. Power prices in Australia surged more than 40 per cent in the March quarter compared to the same time last year. If we look at that state-by-state Victoria had an increase of over 60%.
In what has surely been the ‘elephant in the room’ for months now, some of Australia’s biggest energy retailers have been accused of overcharging consumers, Prior to the Federal election being called, there was debate surrounding the deregulated energy market with consumer advocates calling for greater transparency.
As we have witnessed throughout the campaign trail, each major political party has their own answer to the growing climate crisis. Labor has an ambitious target to ensure Australia derives half its power from renewables by 2030 in the hope of lowering electricity bills and creating 70,000 jobs. Meanwhile the Coalition’s numerous climate measures include the Energy Assistance Payment, which aim to help you pay your next energy bill payment. For this topic to have such prominence among other policy offerings, there’s no doubt that the rising cost of living in Australia is a issue we can’t ignore. Recent findings from the Grattan Institute’s Orange Book saw that Australia is performing poorly in comparison to other countries when it comes to keeping the cost of living down. And while the answer to that may be in the numerous reforms that are needed to ensure Australia moves to a low-emission economy in order to push energy costs down, we shouldn’t just rely on our politicians to nip this in the bud.
And this is where as a country, we must also take responsibility for the issue by doing our part beyond the Federal election. Voting on May 18 should be the first step towards ensuring a better future, not the last.
Small changes you can make to help ease your home’s burden on the environment include:
- Unplugging appliances when they are not in use.
- Choosing energy efficient light bulbs.
- Shutting down your computer/laptop when it’s not in use.
- Washing your clothes in cold water.
- Ensuring your fridge and freezer door seals are intact and working effectively.
- Putting lids on pots to reduce cooking time on your stove.
What this Federal election also teaches us is that it’s also important to think about the bigger picture and, with this in mind, ensuring your home is thermo-efficient is one of the most effective ways to manage your power usage.
Windows and doors are the flimsiest points in your home’s outer shell, so if they’re not insulated properly your leaky old windows may account for up to 40 percent of the thermal energy lost by your home in winter.
If you’re already doing your bit to ease your home’s environmental burden, doesn’t it make sense to properly insulate your windows and doors with uPVC double glazing rather than letting the heating leak out of your home through poorly insulated single glazing?’ A simple, yet effective change that will ensure an increase in your home’s thermal-efficiency? Yep, I’d vote for that.
Whichever party you’re planning to vote for in the coming Federal election, as you make your way to the ballot box to cast your vote for your preferred Prime Minister, remember the responsibility for building a better – more sustainable – future also rests in your hands.
Paul Woods was formally Ecostar’s UK Chief Operating Officer before taking on the role of Construction Project Manager here in Melbourne. He has vast knowledge on double glazing and is considered an expert within the industry.