Fossil fuel freedom
Dave Southgate from Fossil Fuel Freedom will talk about his family’s experience with personal heating devices, solar power and his electric Nissan Leaf.
Dave retired in July 2012 after spending more than 30 years as an environmental specialist with the Federal and Tasmanian State Governments. In the last decade of his career he was directly involved in developing the Australian Government’s responses to climate change. Once retired, his first‑hand experience of the government impasse on climate change inspired him to set up a project to wean his family off fossil‑based fuels.
- Dave’s aim was to eliminate his family’s use of gas, petrol and grid‑based electricity. They began their project by monitoring and understanding their energy use patterns. Over 2013 about 99% of their household energy use was from fossil fuels. Dave hoped to demonstrate they could escape from fossil fuel dependence without radically changing their lifestyle or the fabric of the house.
- Dave quickly discovered that their fossil fuel free goal could largely be achieved without turning the house into an airtight fortress. They focussed on maximising solar PV production and use rather than on miserly energy consumption. He was naturally attracted to simple energy solutions which have no moving parts and hence have low up‑front costs and maintenance requirements. Following this approach led him to some very interesting solutions, particularly for the way they keep ourselves warm inside their house. Over winter 2017 they used about 90% less energy for heating in their home than over winter 2013 while maintaining, or arguably improving, their thermal comfort.
- Their experience after five years is that it has not been too hard to achieve quite dramatic reductions in fossil‑based fuel use for their house. Over the past seven months about 96% of the electricity use in their house has come from the solar PV system on the roof. This includes fuelling the main family car – a Nissan Leaf EV. Weaning themselves off petrol used in their other car is more problematic – the options for buying electric vehicles are still limited in Australia. Petrol now makes up about 90% of their household fossil fuel based energy use. Over the past two years they have been more or less energy cost neutral – their income from selling solar PV electricity has approximately equalled the total cost of their grid‑electricity and petrol.
This talk is brought to you by 350 Canberra and SEE-Change.