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Lifesaving Energy

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Electric Cars!

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The Facts

Imagine how different our lives would be without energy. Did you know that the energy from your power point comes from different sources? Energy can be 'renewable' or 'non-renewable'.

Non-renewable sources are materials buried in the ground such as coal, gas and oil (also called 'fossil fuels'). Fossil fuels are formed from plants and animals that lived millions of years ago.

Most of the energy we use today is generated through the burning of fossil fuels. It's pretty reliable and cheap, but releases greenhouse gases and pollution into our air. Another downside is that once all fossil fuels from the ground are used up, they are gone. It takes millions of years for the fuel to form.

Renewable energy can be made from the sun (solar), rivers and oceans (hydro), wind, plants (biomass) and our planet's hot centre (geothermal) sources - which will never run out. This renewable, green energy releases fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It already provides around 16% of global energy supply. Exploring more renewable energy ideas will help move to a cleaner energy future. Research organisation Beyond Zero Emissions are leading the exploration and have lots of great information on their website.


Here is a funny video that explains the difference between these two sorts of energy!







1. Solar power: The sun shines on "photovoltaic" or "PV" panels which produce an electric current.
Batteries are used to store energy for use at night. In another method curved mirrors are used to concentrate sunlight to heat up water and produce steam that can power a generator.

2. Wind power: wind pushes the blades of wind turbines and makes them spin. The rotation of the blades generates electricity.

3. Hydro-electric power: water movement from rivers and ocean waves pushes giant turbines. The rotation of the turbines creates electrical energy.

4. Geothermal power: Underground heat from the centre of our planet can be used directly to heat buildings or can be used to create steam to push turbines and create electricity.

5. Biomass power: Plants and rubbish are burnt to heat up water and create steam that can push turbines. In another method, plants are converted into biofuels such as methane or ethanol.




If it's so great, why isn't everyone using solar power? Well, solar technology is still very new, and sometimes it takes time for new things to catch on. Plus, even though solar electricity is a lot cheaper to run, it can be expensive to install initially.


At Green Cross Australia, we think solar energy is definitely the future of electricity in Australia, but we know it needs to be more affordable. That's why we've introduced 'Every Rooftop' - this green energy initiative works out how households and businesses can use solar energy to best save money, electricity and the environment.


Solar leasing

Depending on a business or home's energy use, it can be cheaper to lease a solar system, instead of buying one upfront.


Every Rooftop allows people to install solar - for free - by leasing the solar system. So the energy company pays to install the system and your household or business can rent it from them. That way, you can benefit from a smaller electricity bill and can help the environment, without having to pay a lot of money to install the solar system yourself.


Solar leasing is new in Australia but has been big in the US for years; solar leasing accounts for over 75% of new residential solar installations in California.


Can you find out more about solar leasing vs solar buying? Is one better than the other? How are they different?



Do a count - how many appliances do you have at home that use energy? Are they completely turned off or do they use standby power (some power a little light even when they appear to be off)? How can you keep them off when they aren't in use?


Hold an e-waste day at school. Charge a gold coin donation to collect the items. Dispose of them properly and use the money for a green project.

Fantastic fact

Fridges, appliances and your house's hot water heater use almost half of the energy consumed at home.


In January 2014, the number of Australian homes with solar power systems passed the two million mark.


Green Lane Hero

Sarah Costanzo & Laura Gooding, St Joseph's Primary, Corinda

Two creative and enterprising students thinking outside the square for the planet! As an extra project, the girls made a range of items by recycling materials and sold them to raise money for Algalita Marine Research Institute while also raising awareness in their school community about the importance of marine research. Check out their video here!


Action Ideas

Nominate Energy Monitors at school. What kinds of things could they do to reduce your school's energy use? Talk on assembly, run competitions, make reminder 'switch off' stickers?


Develop a school project to reduce energy during peak hours when it really matters. Don't forget to tell us what you're doing to be crowned a Green Lane Hero!


Research how an electric car works? Can you make a model and share it with your friends and family?



GLD Wazza driving 250We can reduce the carbon dioxide we release into our air by using cleaner forms of energy, using less energy hungry-technology or capturing the carbon before it escapes into the atmosphere.


Carbon can be captured through simple actions such as planting a tree, or more complex ones such as pumping carbon gases underground (also called 'geosequestration'). Large manufacturing plants, airplanes, big buildings, homes and cars could all be powered by clean, renewable energy.

Find out how much carbon you use up with this great Kids Carbon Counter!



Our buildings use huge amounts of energy, mainly for heating and cooling. This can be reduced if they are designed carefully by facing the right direction, using insulation, planting trees and avoiding windows on the west side. Appliances should be energy efficient. Well designed buildings need less energy! So think about it, how would you design your home? You can start to research the facts on the 'Envirotecture' website wich is all about sustainable design. You can also use the energy usage test scaffold downloadable here to find out where energy is being wasted!






When everyone is at home at the same time we use a lot of energy. Think about everyone cooking dinner, watching TV and doing homework all at once. It can be hard for our power stations to keep up with the demand. Sometimes energy companies have to build even more power stations to meet peak demand, which costs heaps and increases our greenhouse emissions.

How can we reduce our energy use during peak energy hours?


Energy company Energex can show us how we can simply save energy, reduce emissions and save money by turning off appliances at peak times. Find out more!


More Juicy Stuff...

There are some gases in our atmosphere that capture heat from the sun, we call them 'greenhouse gases'. The five main greenhouse gases are steam, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. They act like a blanket around the planet and keep the world at comfy temperatures.


Throughout history, temperatures on Earth have always changed. They have risen and fallen because of natural causes like volcano eruptions, changing ocean currents and variations in Earth's orbit around the sun. But over the last century temperatures have increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius - this is really fast compared to historical changes.


Scientists who study this around the world have found that this can only be explained by extra greenhouse gases produced by humans. As population grows and people consume more, we need more energy, so we burn more fossil fuels and release more greenhouse gases. The greenhouse gas blanket is getting thicker and just like a great big doona is trapping too much heat.


GLD greenhouse effect 500

















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Tips and Resources

Tips and Resources

We have compiled a list of ideas just to get you going. Try these eco activities - share them with your family and friends. Rate your progress. Be honest so you know what you can work on.


From waste, water and energy to what you eat and what you buy - its all about taking action...  Together we can make a difference!

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