The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change

Glossary of Terms

Energy-efficient household appliances

The use of energy-efficient products by households has the potential to reduce their energy-generated greenhouse gas emissions by between 43 and 54%. This would reduce Australia's total emissions by about 5% annually. (Source: Australian Greenhouse Office)
Total household emissions are about 15 tonnes; 8 of which electricity related. On a per-household basis, energy efficient appliances can save 43-54% of 8 tonnes, or say a 4 tonnes reduction of your households carbon footprint. Total household footprint is about 15 tonnes, so a 25% reduction of your carbon footprint.

Energy-efficient hot water system

Rather than use an electric hot water system that continually heats water in the tank, consider a flow-through hot water system instead - as found with gas hot water units. This will both save you money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Better still, consider installing a split system that also uses solar hot water.

Energy-efficient light globes

Energy efficient light globes use less electricity than normal incandescent globes and still produce the same amount of light - a 15 watt globe provides the same light as a 75W incandescent globe. They also last up to eight times longer than a regular globe. As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions (up to half a tonne per globe), you will also save money on your electricity bills.

Fuel-efficient cars

The most fuel efficient vehicles, and kindest to the environment, are hybrid-fuel cars. They combine the best features of the internal combustion engine with an electric motor without sacrificing performance or driving range.
Primarily propelled by an internal combustion engine (just like conventional vehicles), new hybrids also convert the energy wasted during coasting and braking into electricity, which is stored in a battery until needed by the electric motor. The electric motor is used to assist the engine when accelerating or hill climbing and in low-speed driving conditions where internal combustion engines are least efficient. Some hybrids automatically switch off the engine when the car comes to a stop and restart it when the accelerator is engaged. This prevents wasted energy from idling. Unlike all-electric vehicles, new hybrids on the market do not need to be recharged using an external source of electricity; petrol and regenerative braking provide all the energy the vehicle needs.
At present there are four passenger car models available, though not all may be available in Australia: Honda's Accord Hybrid, Civic Hybrid, and Insight and the Toyota Prius.
For a listing of fuel efficient cars, including hybrids, go to

Green power

Some electricity suppliers offer options to use renewable forms of power - solar, hydro, wind power - instead of coal-based means to supply your home and office. Suppliers of accredited green power are listed on this website.

Go to Green power

Solar hot water

A solar hot water system can reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the home by as much as 20%, meet up to 60% or more of your hot water requirements (cutting your power bill by $200 - $300 per year) and reduce around 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. For answers to other questions on solar hot water go to: here and here

Solar panels

Solar (photovoltaic) panels convert energy in the form of light from the sun into electrical energy. Between 4% and 22% of the light energy falling on a panel is converted to usable electrical energy. The rest is reflected or turned into heat. These panels should not be confused with those used for solar water heating, which simply use the sun's energy to heat water directly. The working life of a solar panel should be in excess of 20 years. They require little maintenance, but dust or grime on the front of solar panels will substantially reduce the output, so they should be cleaned periodically. A solar panel generally consists of a number of solar cells wired together to provide the required voltage and current ratings. There are several different types of materials used yet recent price breakthroughs have occurred with panels made of amorphous silicon. While less efficient than other panels, the production methods here cost far less, thereby making these solar panels more affordable for the average consumer.

Triple-A rated showerheads

An inefficient showerhead passes up to 22 litres of water a minute. A triple-A rated showerhead passes just 8 litres a minute. A three-person household using 294 litres a day could cut their daily water consumption to just 168 litres by changing showerheads. The most common water conservation habits reported inside Australian households included turning off or repairing dripping taps (20%), having full loads when washing (16%) and having shorter showers (14%).

Cabon offset

Climate friendly funds community projects which reduce global warming. You can calculate your greenhouse house gas emissions at home, at the office, from your car and from regular air travel and offset these online.

Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers

Tim Flannery is one of the world's leading writer-scientists and thinkers in environmental science. More

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