IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 26 June 2013, Zero Emissions Media Centre, Melbourne
A leading think-tank is calling for a complete ban on gas in all new homes by next year to safeguard our children and their future.
"Gas fired appliances are out dated, dangerous and should be banned," said Matthew Wright, Executive Director of climate and energy think-tank Zero Emissions.
"Today, all three of the gas appliances that are sold in our homes have an electric competitor that beats them on price and performance. These include induction cooktops, heat pump hot water units and reverse cycle heat pump air-conditioners," said Wright.
"In the 1920's, after having lit streets and homes for over one hundred years, the fossil gas industry attempted to fight electricity head on. In a fight to retain dominance, they promoted the 'all gas home'.
"The 'all gas home' was a crazy idea from a desperate and dangerous industry trying to remain viable. The 'all gas home' included such appliances as the gas iron, gas desk fan, and the gas washing machine.
The inconvenience and danger of these appliances meant that by the 1940s gas was relegated to heating and cooking.
"Burning gas in homes is dangerous for a number of reasons, including the release of significant amounts of carbon monoxide - a colorless and odorless gas which is more readily absorbed by the blood than oxygen. Carbon monoxide is deadly. It can and does kill a significant number of Australians every year.
"Gas related deaths in our homes are under-reported with the cause more often than not, not being attributed. This is especially the case with the elderly, but when our young ones are affected it sometimes gets the attention of the authorities." said Wright.
Tragically in May of 2010 Chase Robinson and his six-year-old brother Tyler died from poisoning following a carbon monoxide leak from a bedroom heater at their home near Shepparton in Central Victoria.
In a response, the Federal government offered a band-aid solution: funding sensors.
"Carbon monoxide sensors are too-little too-late. They are ineffective in many situations. The real answer is to ban gas in all new homes and to announce a ten year phase-out for existing households by initially banning the replacement of any gas appliance."
"Carbon monoxide sensors for all homes is a sop to the dangerous gas and oil lobby that want to keep selling us a dangerous, polluting, and expensive product that we don't need.
"Electricity for home heating (as shown in the comparison below) is cheaper,safer,and produces zero emissions. And with renewable energy it is 100% clean.
"And it's not just the safety of our precious children today. If we keep burning gas, then we're going to drive even more dangerous climate change, creating future health problems through heat stress, bushfires and migration of diseases. Gas in our homes is unsafe for us, our children, their future and the climate and environment. Just ban it!", said Wright.
Gas versus electric - comparison of three appliances currently serviced by gas to half of Australian homes.
Old gas cooking: 40 to 70% efficient. Gives off carbon monoxide directly into our homes - a blood poisoning risk. Serious danger from naked flames causing burns.
New Induction cooking: 90% efficient, zero emissions, zero poisoning risk, no naked flame and very low risk of burns from cooktop.
Old gas water heating: 70 to 85% efficient, much of the heat lost up the exhaust flu, many units have carbon monoxide leakage risk.
New heat pump hot water: 350 to 400% efficient, renewable heat is taken from the surrounding atmosphere providing 75% of hot water needs, zero emissions.
Old gas space heating: 50 to 85% efficient, many units directly exhaust into homes or do not have sealed combustion cycle, highly risky for ongoing health through prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide, often deadly levels of carbon monoxide are generated. Burns risk also present.
New reverse-cycle air conditioners running in 'heat pump' heating mode: 300 to 550% efficient by taking advantage of the refrigeration cycle. Renewable ambient heat is taken from the surrounding atmosphere providing 66 to 82% of total space heating. No burns risk. Unit can double as an air-conditioner for summer. Often an existing air conditioner unit can be operated in winter in heating mode - no new capital investment required.
FOR COMMENT MATTHEW WRIGHT 0421 616 733
Daily Telegraph: May 17 2011, Carbon monoxide detectors to be priced for every home
Dept. Resources: 25 July 2011, Consultation Starts on Gas Safety Strategy
UK National Gas Museum: The all-gas household