Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Never one to be left behind, the Queen’s five “occupied royal palaces” have been fitted with Smart Meters in an attempt to monitor and control energy consumption. Despite an initial drop in consumption there is no hope of lower electricity bills for Her Majesty with a shocking 20 per cent rise in the UK’s average combined gas and electricity costs. In fact, the Queen is close to “fuel poverty” whereby a household is spending 10 per cent or more of its income on heating the home.
Buckingham Palace is in need of various repairs and replacements to its archaic heating and electrical system. We suspect it is not the most energy efficient of homes. Whilst the article suggests that the royal household could exercise choice in its energy provider and even purchase energy in advance on the wholesale market, writer David Blair concludes the the Queen’s best option may be to turn to renewable sources of energy. Construction has begun on a hydroelectric scheme on the Thames which would enable another home of the Queen – Windsor Castle – to generate its own energy and sell any surplus back to the grid.
This is all well and good but it is the energy efficiency of the palaces themselves that should be tackled first and foremost. Insulation and overhaul of any ancient systems should be the priority as well as reviewing the lighting and seeing if energy is being wasted. We’d delighted to give her Majesty some advice or send her over an EnviR home energy monitor to get her started!
Read the full article here: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/2bfc6e92-fbee-11e0-9283-00144feab49a.html#axzz1cPX25wJP
Monday, September 26, 2011
First to the UK: construction has recently been completed on the UK's largest solar power plant. Completed in an impressively tight timeframe of just ten weeks, Spanish firm Isolux Corsan spent 40 million Euros on the 15 megawatt facility located in rural Cornwall. The fast turnaround to install the 22,000 panels was partly due to Britain's latest reductions to solar feed-in tariffs, a story all too familiar to the Australian solar industry.
It's great to hear of large scale solar projects like this being completed so quickly. All the UK now needs is some sunshine!
There is also positive solar news coming out of the US, where during the second quarter of 2011 solar PV installations increased by a huge 69 per cent. California is leading this surge, closely followed by New Jersey which has has the largest non-residential solar market in the US. Google has recently invested US$250 million into a residential solar project which will no doubt provide a fantastic boost for the solar industry in the US.
Another US giant, Walmart has taken a great initiative in renewable energy by placing solar panels on the rooftops of many of its stores in California, enough to generate up to 70 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year - an example which retail giants or owners of large commercial premises around the world would do well follow.
As the globe is gripped by economic uncertainty we hope that investment in clean energy will not wane. Even if residential installs slow down thanks to reductions in feed-in tariffs, we hope that large scale installations will thrive.
For information on how SmartNow can enable you to get the most from your solar panels and reduce wastage please visit www.smartnow.com.au.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Australia's reluctance to embrace solar power could well change dramatically over the next 20 years even without a carbon tax. Due to the massive leaps that China is making at the moment in production and the reduction in cost of solar panels, it might not be too long before the price per kWh of solar electricity is lower than that of coal-fired power stations. Yes, admittedly, there remains some serious work to do to be able to replace coal-fired power as a reliable source of base-load power - i.e. there needs to be some serious energy storage facilities built - but it's an interesting thought that coal-fired power could soon be considered the expensive option.
Roll on that day we say. Whatever the case maybe for base-load coal-fired power, there is a certain elegance to achieving our energy requirements through nothing more than pure sunlight instead of setting fire to things.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
The Victorian Government is amending planning laws regarding wind farms, giving households the power to veto wind turbines within two kilometres of their homes. Turbines are also due to be banned in areas of natural beauty popular with tourists near to the Victorian coast and within five kilometres of numerous Victorian regional centres.
This will inevitably divert multi-billion dollar investment in regional Victoria interstate and is therefore seen as hugely detrimental to clean energy infrastructure in the state.
The Australian public seems to have mixed views on wind turbines and their potential impact on people's quiet enjoyment of their homes and surrounding areas. Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Matthew Warre has no doubts as to the negative impact that will have on clean energy investment in Victoria, citing the setback policy as "completely arbitrary".
To read the full press release from the Clean Energy Council click here: http://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/cec/mediaevents/media-releases/August-2011/MR290811-vic-wind.html
Or to read The Age's piece on this development click here: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/baillieus-wind-farm-crackdown-20110829-1jig4.html
For further information on SmartNow and how to save money on your power bills with our home energy monitors please visit www.smartnow.com.au.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
SmartNow USB Drivers Page
PLEASE NOTE - unbelievably, just because there is a newer driver available than the ones we have posted, it doesn't mean it will work! The drivers we have on our site are tried and tested and work. PLEASE do not go googling for newer drivers, as all that will happen is you'll wind up calling us because you can't get them to work. Strange but True.
We’ve already brought you some updates on what Bridge users can expect when this closure happens: http://www.smartnow.com.au/2011/06/28/the-bridge-some-exciting-current-cost-developments-smart-now-home-energy-monitor/
But we know that many customers use the USB data cable to upload data from their EnviR home energy monitor.
Current Cost, manufacturers of the EnviR, have put together some very useful information regarding software options for users of the USB cable: http://www.currentcost.com/software-downloads.html
As you can see, there are plenty of options available to enable you to get the most from your EnviR, to eliminate wastage and reduce your power bill.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
The government already reduced the feed-in tariff from 60 cents per kilowatt hour to 40 cents and then down to 20 cents in May. Rebates will continue to be paid to existing users for the 10 year agreed payment period.
Unsurprisingly, the decision to axe the scheme so suddenly has angered solar industry experts and businesses who have questioned why they weren't given fair warning that the scheme was fast approaching its cap.
We're sorry to see the WA feed-in tariff reduce. It appears to have been a great success in promoting the installation of solar panels. We're not sure that it yet makes economic sense to install solar panels without a subsidised feed-in tariff as is claimed, but the proof will be in the pudding. It'll be very interesting to see how many solar installations happen this year. We don't think it will be half as many as the government expects.
In the meantime, we'd like to encourage the government to support medium and large scale solar in sunny WA. Now we've got 150MW of installed capacity on individual residential roofs, it would be good to see some large-scale installations on the tops of the commercial property out there. A prime candidate would be for supermarkets and shopping malls - solar can seriously reduce the load that the massive aircon units place on the grid on a sunny afternoon.
To read the full article about the scrapping of the scheme in WA click here: http://www.theage.com.au/environment/energy-smart/wa-solar-rebate-scheme-too-popular-to-continue-20110801-1i7lc.html
To learn how to monitor your solar generation and to reduce your electricity bill with an EnviR home energy monitor from SmartNow click here: http://www.smartnow.com.au/smartnow-current-cost-solutions/i-have-solar/
Thursday, June 30, 2011
There was an interesting opinion piece from Chris Dunstan in the Sydney Morning Herald this week regarding, you guessed it, rising power bills!
Electricity prices in New South Wales are due to rise by another 17 per cent today. This will bring the cumulative increase to 76 per cent since June 2007, with further increases in the pipeline.
Dunstan outlines the ongoing argument over the cause of the price rises. It has been claimed that the current level of power network investment is unnecessary - driven by industry "goldplating". Yet the industry and the federal Energy Minister claims the $9 billion per year spent on network infrastructure is essential.
This finger pointing is getting us nowhere, writes Dunstan, and suggests that instead of spending all their money on infrastructure to meet customer demand, networks could help customers save energy by reducing demand.
Very little is currently being spent on demand management and it is reducing peak demand in Australia by less than one per cent, compared to 4.4 per cent in the US. Dunstan reports that up to $1 billion per year in infrastructure costs could be saved by 2020, while elimination growth in carbon emissions in the building sector, simply by making homes and other buildings more energy efficient.
SmartNow is firmly in support of increasing energy efficiency in order to reduce demand. It is a simple way of saving individuals money on their power bills as well as reducing demand and decreasing our carbon footprint.
To ensure your home is not using more energy than it should be, invest in a Current Cost EnviR home energy monitor from SmartNow. You will be able to see exactly how much energy you are using in real time which will enable you to reduce your bill and potentially detect any faulty appliances.
To read the full article click here: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/the-networks-could-help-cut-power-bills-20110628-1gp2z.html
To learn more about the EnviR home energy monitor visit www.smartnow.com.au
Monday, June 27, 2011
As many SmartNow customers are aware, Google has recently announced that Google PowerMeter will be shut down as of 16 September.
In our previous blog we told you that Current Cost have been busy adding new features and functionality to my.currentcost.com which will result in the portal being even more powerful than Google PowerMeter.
Current Cost has released a short video to guide you through some of the updates that have already been made. These include the ability to:
- Register multiple Bridges to the same account and to individually name each Bridge
- Name your location
- Make your Bridge public or private in order to share you data. Clicking the "share" button brings up a page which is accessible to anyone on the internet. There are various options to embed graphs on your own blog/website etc.
To view the video please click here: http://currentcost.posterous.com/mycurrentcostcom-new-features
We will keep you posted on these exciting developments.
For further information on how the Bridge and the EnviR home energy monitor can enable you to reduce your energy consumption and slash your power bills visit www.smartnow.com.au
This weekend Google announced that they are to close Google PowerMeter as of 16 September. Although we were aware that Google wouldn't be developing the software any longer, we were surprised to learn that the application is to be closed completely.
Although this will come as disappointing news to users of the Bridge who currently upload their information to Google PowerMeter, we actually have some positive news to report.
The Current Cost portal at http://my.currentcost.com (the place the Bridge sends it's data to prior to Google PowerMeter) is undergoing extensive and exciting upgrades that will be rolled out over the coming weeks and months. We can't reveal too much right now but we will post more info as soon as we can.
We are confident that you will find that the new features will make my.currentcost.com considerably more useful and powerful than Google PowerMeter.
In the meantime the Bridge can still be used with Google PowerMeter and the USB cable is available on our website which can be used with various different software options. The EnviR home energy monitor is a fantastic tool for managing your energy consumption and slashing your power bill, however you choose to upload your data.
We will release further information as soon as we have it so keep checking www.smartnow.com.au for further updates or visit our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/SmartNow/114000321953472
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
A few weeks ago we blogged about the Solar Rally taking place in New South Wales to demonstrate against the Government's decision to retrospectively change the feed in tariff rate for 120,000 NSW households from 60c per kW/h to 40c per kW/h.
It seems that the efforts of the Australian Solar Energy Society and its supporters have paid off - these plans have now been dropped by NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell after failing to get the backing he needed to pass the law, and after an audit showed the cost of the solar scheme to be lower than originally forecast.
This is fantastic news for supporters of the solar industry. In fact it means 40,000 planned solar installs that were previously hanging in the balance can now proceed and those who signed up to support green energy and have these panels installed will not lose out. Many participants in the solar scheme had borrowed money to buy their solar panels and risked losing thousands of dollars if the feed-in tariff was cut.
The campaign doesn't stop here, however. Solar supporters are now urging the NSW government to put in a fair price going forward for electricity produced by solar panels.
The industry remains in crisis with one of Australia's largest solar panel retailers, Clear Solar, going into receivership this week and more predicted to follow.
Today The Age warned of rising power prices as electricity retailers are required to increase their contribution to the solar scheme.
One thing is for certain, solar will remain a hot topic as the future of the scheme is debated in the weeks to come.
To maximise the return on your solar panels invest in a Solar Monitoring Kit from SmartNow. You will receive an EnviR Home Energy Monitor and everything you need to monitor the energy consumption of your home and the generation of your solar panels. To learn more visit www.smartnow.com.au.
Monday, May 30, 2011
There was an interesting, if somewhat hard to follow, piece in The Age recently warning that power bills are to double within six years.
On top of rising fuel and gas prices, TRUenergy - one of Australia's largest home and business electricity suppliers - has warned that uncertainty over the implementation of a carbon tax could reduce investment in the power industry and lead to energy shortages.
Whilst we don't know the fate of the carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme, there is little doubt in anyone's mind that prices are only going one way: up.
A great way to ensure you are not spending more than you should be on power bills is to invest in a home energy monitor from SmartNow. The Current Cost EnviR is a simple device which enables you to see exactly how much energy you are using in real time and what it is costing you, empowering you to take control of your usage. There has never been a smarter time to start using a home energy monitor.
To read the full article in The Age click here: http://www.theage.com.au/environment/energy-smart/warning-of-power-bills-to-double-within-six-years-20110522-1eym0.html
To visit our new website and learn more about the EnviR home energy monitor click here: www.smartnow.com.au
Monday, April 18, 2011
Electricity users in New South Wales are facing yet another price increase. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) says electricity prices for the average NSW resident will increase by 17.6 per cent by July.
This will come as very distressing news for many households who are already struggling to pay huge power bills.
The article quotes NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell telling of a family struggling with a $1400 power bill for a four-bedroom home. Assuming this is a quarterly bill and that they are being billed at $0.20 per kilowatt hour this equates to approximately 75 kilowatt hours per day - an outrageously high consumption of power.
There is no reason why a four-bedroom house should receive a $1400 power bill - there must be some serious wastage going on here, which if identified could enable the family to make huge savings. We have monitored large, inefficient houses in Perth who are operating pool pumps etc and are using around 50 kilowatt hours per day.
With some common sense and an EnviR home energy monitor a family with a bill as high as this should be able to reduce their usage down to at least 50 kilowatt hours per day. They could potentially cut their power bill by around one third which roughly equates to a saving of $1800 per year.
We can't control the price of electricity, unfortunately, but we can certainly control how much of it we are consuming.
To read the full article click here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/14/3191670.htm?section=justin
For more information on the EnviR home energy monitor visit www.smartnow.com.au.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Daylight Saving ended in five states across Australia this weekend, signalling the official end to the summer. As cooler weather begins to set in, so power bills begin to rise.
Even if you're not bracing yourself for a Melbourne winter as we are at SmartNow HQ there are many factors besides just heating your home which can lead to a shock when your next bill comes in.
As the days get shorter many of us will spend more time indoors watching television and keeping the lights on. Children who may have played outside after school will be coming home and switching on the games console instead.
Now is a great time to think about what you could do to cut down power use in your home - invest in some LED downlighters, switch to energy efficient bulbs or think about how to improve your home's insulation.
Start monitoring exactly how much power you are using and how much it is costing you with a Current Cost EnviR from SmartNow. This will allow you to take control of how much you are spending and is a great way to teach kids about saving energy.
For more information visit: www.smartnow.com.au.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
We've come across an interesting article this week which shows that being green shouldn't stop at home.
The Age reported how Hilton Hotel worker, Benjamin Grimshaw, from Sydney has been nominated for a WWF Earth Hour Award having spearheaded a successful environmental policy at the hotel.
One of his first steps was to install 744 LED light bulbs in the hotel's guest corridors which is saving the hotel $30,000 a year and has reduced energy requirements by 35% in those areas.
Having formed an environmental committee, Grimshaw has also helped to cut water use by 2.3 per cent by installing sensors and restrictors in hotel bathrooms and has decreased the hotel's per capita energy use by 6.5 per cent.
The Earth Hour Award nomination is a sure indication that green initiatives in the work place are taken seriously and can reap benefits for the individual as well as for the business and the environment.
To read the full article click here: http://www.theage.com.au/environment/earth-hour/tiny-footprint-in-the-corridor-20110325-1c9f0.html
To learn how to monitor how much energy your home or workplace is consuming visit: www.smartnow.com.au.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Another exciting solar development to report: the next generation of solar panels - about one-20th as thick as a piece of paper - is being developed by Australian researchers. These panels, with a layer of crystalised silicon gas which collects sunlight, could eventually be used to overlay glass skyscrapers - transforming them into solar power stations.
The introduction of these panels will represent another step forwards in encouraging much larger scale solar installations and making use of commercial spaces; something essential in harnessing the vast potential of solar power.
To learn more about this development and to see the new face of the fantastic Earth Hour campaign visit The Age Environment page: http://www.theage.com.au/environment/energy-smart/plea-from-a-new-earth-mother--20110305-1bio9.html.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Property journalist Caroline Boyd has come up with some excellent tips to cool down your house in what's shaping up to be a scorching hot summer: http://theage.domain.com.au/blogs/talking-property/tips-to-cool-down-the-house/20110201-1abbq.html.
You would also be wise to invest in a Current Cost EnviR from SmartNow. You'll be able to see how much energy you're using in real time, and what it's costing you, to ensure that you're not faced with a colossal energy bill at the end of the season.
Visit our online store and receive free shipping on orders over $50: http://www.smartnow.com.au/store.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The article highlights research from Clean Energy Australia which provides an interesting insight into how Australia uses renewable energy. This report showed that 8.67 per cent of Australia's electricity was provided by renewable resources in 2010. With electricity prices on the rise there has never been a better time to invest in clean energy.
If you are considering investing in a solar system in 2011, get yourself a Current Cost EnviR from SmartNow and hook it up to Google PowerMeter.
An EnviR will be particularly useful if you are on a Net feed-in tariff (where you are paid for every unused kWh which you push back to the grid) as it will allow you to monitor and reduce the amount of energy consumption in your home therefore maximising your payback and ensuring you make back the money on your investment faster!
For a detailed breakdown of how this can be achieved check out our previous blog: http://smartnowenvironmental.blogspot.com/2010/08/stop-read-this-before-you-buy-your.html
Visit SmartNow's webshop to view the Current Cost EnviR and our solar monitoring kits: http://www.smartnow.com.au/store/
Monday, January 24, 2011
A report by IPART has found that households paid an average 24.4 per cent more for electricity, gas and water in the past two years. One in five low income families were spending 5 per cent of their income on electricity.
Ensure you are not paying more than you should be - monitor your energy usage with the Current Cost EnviR and Google PowerMeter, now available in Australia and New Zealand from www.smartnow.com.au and www.smartnow.co.nz. How much will you save?
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Cashmere Avenue Primary School has already identified 2kW of energy use which can easily be cut, representing a saving of around $1500 a year. This is a valuable reinvestment opportunity at a time when schools’ budgets are stretched to the limit.
Read more here: http://katrinashanks.co.nz/index.php?/archives/383-Cashmere-Ave-Primary-School-Goes-Green-to-Help-out-Blue.html
At SmartNow we are currently developing our own not-for-profit venture: the SmartNow School Energy Education Program. To learn more about this project to increase energy efficiency and provoke interest in sustainability in schools click here: http://www.smartnow.com.au/schools.php