How technology has driven energy consumption

In 2001, teenagers were enjoying the novelty and convenience of the new-fangled rechargeable iPod – a significant advance on the battery-operated Sony Walkman. In the ensuing decades our lives have rapidly become high-tech and increasingly dependent on electricity. And while there has been an emphasis on ensuring new appliances and equipment are energy efficient, the speed and diversity of technological advancement means household electricity consumption has naturally increased.

According to a survey by Energy Consumers Australia, 52% of respondents said their household had more digital devices running than 5 to 10 years ago and 42% said their kitchen had a wider variety of appliances. Devices used for communication, entertainment, and content creation are now more convenient and more common than ever as they are portable, rechargeable, and interconnected.

Typical households have home office equipment such as monitors, keyboards, external hard drives, and multi-functional devices for printing, copying, and scanning, with each individual owning a smart phone, smart watch, personal computer or tablet. And while 20 years ago we had televisions, audio equipment and DVD players, we now have quite a lot more home entertainment equipment with streaming devices like set-top boxes and sometimes multiple gaming consoles.

The addition of heating and cooling systems, powered window blinds and shutters, and security systems to more houses and a multitude of kitchen appliances has also increased electricity usage. Voice activated virtual assistants such as Alexa and Google Home have become popular as a way of linking and controlling smart devices in the home and they too, require electricity to work.

Then there’s the electric vehicle (EV) – a key strategy in the race to lower carbon emissions. While EVs haven’t quite become mainstream yet, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria have set a target for 50% of new car sales to be EVs by 2030. An October 2022 report published by KPMG forecast that in 2031, EVs will make up around 11% of the total passenger fleet in Sydney, 10% in Melbourne and 6% in Brisbane. As an increasing number of households charge EVs in addition to all their devices, appliances, and equipment, a reliable electricity supply will become even more crucial.

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