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I moved to Newcastle, Australia from the US (Los Angeles) about two years ago. I was shocked when I received my energy bill.

Australians in general are hesitant to use their AC or electric heaters, opting to just layer up when it's cold or try to use fans in the summer. Many (most?) households don't have clothes dryers, using clotheslines instead.

I would like to see how much energy the average Australian household consumes. I'm not sure how much consumption would go up if power got cheaper, but mine sure would... I really dislike being cold inside my own house. That said, I much prefer living in Australia to the U.S., especially while raising a family.




> Many (most?) households don't have clothes dryers, using clotheslines instead.

Why bother having a clothes dryer when for most of the year you can hang them up in the shade and they will be dry within the hour. There are only a couple of states/regions where it makes sense to use a clothes dryer. The blue mountains and I imagine Tasmania where it gets too cold to hang your clothes up in the winter.

> I would like to see how much energy the average Australian household consumes.

From memory for just myself in a small apartment I used around 9-12 kWh / day. That is rarely using the A/C but having at least one PC running 24/7.


> The blue mountains and I imagine Tasmania where it gets too cold to hang your clothes up in the winter.

Clothes get dry regardless of the temperature: if it's cold enough, the water will freeze and then the ice sublimates into the lower-humidity atmosphere.


Regardless of the cold... but not of the air humidity. Which is ehat he meant with cold I suppose. (colder means usually more humidity)


Depends on the humidity, not just the temperature. I remember hanging my clothes up to dry whilst in Darwin, and they took literally days to get somewhat close to dry.


Exactly my point: the temperature in the top end is not cold, and clothes take ages to dry.


No, orthogonal to your point :)

The temperature was only around 23c. In the same temperature in Melbourne, they dry in an hour or two.


No, same as my point: clothes will dry at any temperature, if the humidity is low enough.


Yes, but there are differences between taking hours to dry on a clothesline, taking an hour to dry in a dryer, and taking less than an hour drying in a clothesline (in the shade even).


> Australians in general are hesitant to use their AC or electric heaters

Anecdotal, but I don't think I know a single person here who is hesitant to use heating/AC - could just be down to the people I know, but I get funny looks when I tell people just to wrap up.

Something that did surprise me here is the near-complete lack of double glazing. Everywhere I've lived has been thin single-glazed windows which just let out all of the heat/cold. It's bizarre.


It depends a lot where you live.

I lived in Canberra, which sits in the middle of a valley so it got very cold in winter (for an Australian city) and uncomfortably hot in summer. Wikipedia tells me that lowest average low is −0.1 C in July and highest average high is 28 C in Jan. In winter heating was a necessity. And in summer owing to lack of any source of breeze AC was 'nice to have'.

I now live on the South Coast of NSW much more temperate climate 8 C to 26 C I use neither AC nor heating we have a nice coastal breeze most days during summer so is not actually that unpleasant. This is quite similar climate-wise to Sydney though you would not get cooling effect of coastal breeze if you lived there so A/c probably more desirable but I would say not essential.


Would double glazing also prevent natural cooling? In Melbourne where the temperature is variable I find the biggest problem is that after a couple of hot days it takes my apartment a day or two to cool down again. I can open the window of course, but often am unable to because of insects and/or not being home.

The worst thing I see across the country is the lack of fly screens with security screens on them. I grew up in a house with them (Southern Queensland) and the were a fantastic and free way to moderate the temperature, you could leave them open all day when it's warm or just during the day during winter and not have to worry about people breaking in.


Yeah, see my other comment. Australian builders / the whole building industry is downright ignorant and just about completely incompetent when it comes to thermal management.


Im in Sydney and I've got an AC unit from the 70s or 80s in a house I recently bought. Im very hesitant to turn it on as I know it will be super inefficient. Im hoping to replace it later in the year. But until then its layer up! unless guests are coming over.


Would it actually be that inefficient? I honestly don't know, but am curious if the tech has changed that significantly. Consider lifecycle costs (both financial and resources) before replacing it; might just need a clean and service.


In my case at least, replacing a 70s Carrier "window A/C" (that was actually embedded in a hole in the wall instead of a window) with a modern ductless mini-split with inverter-powered compressor resulted in almost 70% lower power consumption, not to mention the fact that the new unit is virtually silent.


I avoid using my AC but I'm just really cheap and don't mind suffering through heat too badly. It helps that I also work in an office fulltime so that's full HVAC and I'm not home during most days when it's bad. I also love the cold (to the extent that QLD has cold) so right now I'm in a shirt and shorts and loving it.


That reminds me of being at Melbourne airport wishing to consume the last of a bottle of Absinthe and being sad that no one had ice...


I remember that, there was a heat wave through the south of Australia and the main ice producing plant had a power failure.


We only turn on the AC when it's above 35C and only turn on the heat when it gets below 12C (inside!)


You bloody legend


> Australians in general are hesitant to use their AC or electric heaters, opting to just layer up when it's cold or try to use fans in the summer. Many (most?) households don't have clothes dryers, using clotheslines instead.

Are you suggesting these are bad things? I think they're positive however, it varies wildly across different locations and demographics.

> I would like to see how much energy the average Australian household consumes.

Again, an average figure wouldn't be that insightful, as there are probably massive differences in different populations. Additionally, building standards change things considerably (presence or lack of insulation, double glazing, ceiling height, aspect) - certain eras and locations (often due to regulations) get these things right, others don't.

I'm not sure how much consumption would go up if power got cheaper, but mine sure would... I really dislike being cold inside my own house. That said, I much prefer living in Australia to the U.S., especially while raising a family.


> Are you suggesting these are bad things?

As a local; yes it is a bad thing. I want cheap energy. Cheap access to energy is literally one of two things separating us from animals. The other thing is higher intelligence.

There is room for an ideological debate on the meaning of good, but this is an outcome of regulation that the government didn't push for and that the votes would not choose if they had to tick a box.


And opposable thumbs.


"Are you suggesting these are bad things? I think they're positive however, it varies wildly across different locations and demographics."

I didn't think I suggested these were bad things. Perhaps I was just over-generalising. I was just pointing out (badly) that my observations from living in Newcastle are different than my observations living in Southern California. I agree that they are positive.


Growing up in San Jose, my dad ran a very profitable business and was also miserly about home climate control (it's the single biggest energy expense, after all).

A/C was limited to a single in-wall unit that was only to be used when outside shade temperature reached 95 F / 35 C. If you wanted to cool down, it was a fan or go for a swim.

Heat was whole-house, natural gas with floor registers, set to inside 65 F / 18 C max.

House had both fiberglass and blown insulation, automatic ridge-line roof venting, tall tree shade, multi-pane windows, weatherstripping, room isolation manual practices (door and register closing), etc. This was in the 1980's-1990's before "green" was standard practice, it was self-interested to save TCO money.


>Many (most?) households don't have clothes dryers, using clotheslines instead.

We have a clothes dryer in our home (in Australia), and have used it about once a year over the last 10 years. Usually only in an "emergency". Generally speaking it's always warm enough to dry laundry naturally here, which is why dryers are not so common.

> opting to just layer up when it's cold or try to use fans in the summer.

Insulation in Australian homes is generally terrible. I wish it were different. But I have rarely seen people hesitate to use a heater or AC.


>That said, I much prefer living in Australia to the U.S., especially while raising a family.

Why is that?


A number of reasons: 1. Safety. I don't hear gunfire on New Year's Eve, like we used to in L.A. and some places I lived in Orange County as well. Someone getting shot is almost national news here.

2. Government support. If I lost my job I wouldn't have to worry about how to pay for health services. We're a healthy family, but peace of mind is great.

3. Government support. My 7 year old was diagnosed with mild ASD, ADHD and Dyslexia in Kindergarten. The National Disability Insurance Scheme has helped us pay for Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology and Psychology. She has very much thrived here, and we are grateful for it.

4. Professional environment. This might be anec-data (all of it might), but mine and my wife's workplaces are very flexible when it comes to taking care of family matters.

There are TONS of things I miss about living in Southern California (it still feels like home in many ways, good Mexican food, Disneyland, running my AC non-stop all Summer!, etc), but, for us, the pros outweigh the cons.


Thanks. I will be moving (back) to Europe in a few weeks. I, too, decided like you to put certain pros over salary / career.


> 2. Government support. If I lost my job I wouldn't have to worry about how to pay for health services.

Isn't there a health program in the US (Medicaid?) specifically for people with limited/no income? Is it insufficient?


It's obviously a subjective matter. However, seems as he specifically mentioned "while raising a family", here are a few possible reasons:

- Safety

In general Australia has a lower crime rate than USA. Of course, there are absolutely areas within USA that would have a lower crime rate than certain areas of Australia.

http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Australia/U...

- Health Care

Australia has well established free public health care that covers general illness, radiology, necessary surgeries, disabilities etc. Higher income earners are expected to also have private health insurance and are penalised in their taxes if they don't have it. However, if you're a low(er) income earner or simply prefer the public health system it works quite well.

https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/dhs/medicare

There's also a pretty solid Welfare system if you are worried about income stability for whatever reason.

The free public education system is also quite good, although I'm unclear on how it compares to the USA.

Of course, there are also many benefits to living in the USA over Australia - particularly if you're working in the tech sector. There is a strong tech scene in Australian capital cities, but it's fairly quiet elsewhere. There's nothing comparable to Silicon Valley.

Depending on your business, the USA can also be a better place to start your own business - larger sales capacity (if you can deal with the fact States have very different taxation rules etc.) and significantly more VC opportunities (although Australia is slowly picking up its game).

Film and TV industries are also obviously miles behind LA or even New York. So if that's an industry you're interested in then USA is the place to be.

However, Australia seems to compare fairly favourably when raising a family is your biggest priority, say over career advancement.


I agree with all your points. I worked in the entertainment industry when I was in L.A. Now, I work in tech as a software engineer. I feel my professional prospects were a bit stronger in the U.S., and I still prefer living in Oz.

I also feel like there was more pressure to "keep up with the Joneses" in SoCal. Mind you, I live in Newcastle, so I kinda avoid the housing problem that we have in Sydney and (now) Melbourne.


"Higher income earners are expected to also have private health insurance and are penalised in their taxes if they don't have it"

Also, foreigners that move here after the age of 35! We have private health cover as well and it's great.


If you're referring to loading on private cover for not carrying a policy, that does not apply if you were living overseas.


Food is better, people are friendlier, sunnier, better quality of life, better stuff for kids. Less tax.


Is it really sunnier than Southern California?


It's a pretty big country ;)

LA gets 284 sunny days a year (which is a lot!). By comparison, Sydney gets 236,but Perth gets 265.

Here is a site listing Australian cities: https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/Australia/Cities/suns...

Plenty of places hotter than LA if it is the heat you are interested in. Adelaide had a heatwave a few years ago where it didn't drop below 35C for 10 nights straight, and had days over 46C.


"Adelaide had a heatwave a few years ago where it didn't drop below 35C for 10 nights straight, and had days over 46C."

Why would somebody ever want that? (I was suffering from 31C at lunch today)


It wasn't great...


Depends where you live in Australia.

Queensland? Sure.

Victoria? Only in Summer where temperatures occasionally exceed 100 Fahrenheit, winters are cold.

Tasmania? No, never.


If you're talking about Los Angeles compared to even Brisbane, Queensland, this is wrong.


> If you're talking about Los Angeles compared to even Brisbane, Queensland, this is wrong

I wasn't, I meant what I wrote, and nothing more specific than that.

Nonetheless, even comparing those two cities, I'm not sure "wrong" is an appropriate conclusion. It really depends on what metrics you're using.

http://www.holiday-weather.com/brisbane/averages/ http://www.holiday-weather.com/los_angeles/averages/

LA certainly has more hours of sunlight, but it's not nearly as warm. However, hours of sunlight probably isn't what people mean when they say "sunnier", or else the Arctic would be a popular tourist destinations for "sun seekers" during its Summer.


LA and Sydney are natural comparisons, both are large cities with similar climates. Although I would argue that LA is drier (despite it raining both times I have visited).


Because everyone is so much more energy efficient by virtue of high energy bills


LOL, and this too :P


Healthcare and college won't bankrupt you?


This is a good thing. We also don't leave our taps on wasting water.


How is the Newcastle tech industry? Sydney is nigh-on unaffordable (on 1.2 incomes with two children) and we're thinking about a move, but only if there's work I can do.




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