Reducing emissions with a boatie’s lifestyle

Geoff Chia's catamaran, with solar panels over the stern

Living on a boat instead of the great Aussie dream of a 40-square house can greatly reduce your environmental footprint. Geoffrey Chia explains how he plans to do that in the future with his newly acquired catamaran.

IT IS feasible to drastically reduce personal fossil fuel consumption, carbon emissions, fresh water consumption and waste production without significantly compromising quality of life. Many yachties are already living proof of this fact. I plan to demonstrate and live this myself, on my newly acquired Mahe 36 catamaran, using the latest devices available to show that modern appliances and electronic technologies can be part of a sustainable life. The technology is sufficiently mature and I have sufficient equity to embark on this project now.

I am unable to address issues of embodied energy, which can only be addressed by the manufacturers of items and materials. I will only be purchasing products which are commercially available. Nevertheless, as the embodied energy of standard houses and appliances is much greater than that of the items and materials used in this project, the net benefits, taking into account both embodied energy and long-term daily consumption and waste, will be far superior in this project, compared with our standard lifestyle.

I will not be able to completely eliminate fossil fuel use, but intend to show we can drastically reduce our carbon footprint by a tremendous amount, hopefully by at least 80% to 90%, fairly easily.

This project will be a proof-of-concept, low-footprint residential project in the first instance. I will continue to work, with my car parked near the river for workday commuting. Coastal and ocean passages are options for the future when I have reduced the substantial loan that funds this project.

Modern appliances
The most important aspect here will be the utilisation of energy-efficient and energy-saving electrical devices. Air conditioners, fridges, freezers and plasma TVs are the major consumers of electricity in Australian households, while heaters can be a major electricity guzzler in colder climates.

Incandescent lights are also terribly wasteful, converting less than 10% of electricity to light, the rest being wasted as heat. Hence all lighting will be LED lights, which are now more efficient than even compact fluorescent lights. LED lights contain no mercury and have a projected lifespan of 30,000 to 100,000 hours.

Read the full article in ReNew 120.

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