Saving energy is a worthy aim but like most goals it is better if you have a measurable target to aim for. How should you go about setting an energy use goal? I am particularly fond of the Wheaton Eco Test. The test (or target) is really simple. You find out what the average spending is for a particular commodity and then use less than that. If you have time I would recommend that you go and read the essay.
In the past I have received utility bills where the bill includes a little graph showing how much I use in relation to other people in the same area. I was always shocked to see how my two person household uses less than other single person households! I guess it’s easy to waste mindlessly if you aren’t paying attention.
Now I will conceded that it can be difficult to find out what these averages are. Here are some of the values I was able to find for Melbourne and/or Australia.
- Water: 160 liter per person per day
- Households (1-2 residents) 1,400 kWh/quarter or 7.67 kWh per person/day
- Households (3-4 residents) 2,100 kWh/quarter or 5.75 kWh per person/day
- Households (5+ residents) 2,700 kWh/quarter or 5.91 kWh per person/day
- Households (1-2 residents) 3,100 MJ/quarter or 16.99MJ per person/day
- Households (3-4 residents) 5,400 MJ/quarter or 14.79MJ per person/day
- Households (5+ residents) 6,400 MJ/quarter or 14.03 MJ per person/day
- Expenditure (Including electricity, gas, heating oil and wood): $32 per week in 2009-2010.
The point is not the accuracy of the averages, the aim is to find some reasonable average and then aim to use less than that average. Not doing anything less than the average is just kidding yourself.