WHERE DOES YOUR ELECTRICITY COME FROM?

From flipping the light switch and turning on your phone to reheating a snack in the microwave, the everyday activities we take for granted utilise an essential energy source – electricity. Now that you stop and think about it, you might wonder how this power arrives at your home from once it’s been generated. As we’ll outline here, the electricity we take for granted makes a long journey from the power station to your home. So, here’s how it gets delivered to you…

 

Australia’s electricity grid

Australia’s electricity grid spans more than 4,500 kilometres, and that’s just the eastern and southern states. Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Mount Isa in Queensland have individual transmission and distribution networks. With more than 40,000 km of transmission lines, the main electricity grid includes transmission and distribution elements that allow transportation across the vast distances to your home. Australia’s grid is relatively efficient, with an average of 5% of electricity lost through the transmission and distribution process. This is a relatively low figure compared to loss rates for other countries.

 

Power stations

Electricity starts its life in a power station. Power stations are huge plants – often located near energy sources like natural gas plants, hydroelectricity dams, and solar or wind farms – that produce electricity. Depending on the type of fuel or source of energy input – whether it’s coal, solar, wind, or even nuclear – power plants may have components such as a furnace, boiler, turbine, cooling towers, and generators. These types of components are essential for the generation process.

Once the electricity is generated, it leaves the power station through overhead lines to large substations. At this stage, the electricity can be at as high as 25,000 volts or even higher.

 

First substation transformer

Substations are usually located near power stations. Substations play an important role in the electricity transmission process: they further increase the voltage of the current, allowing it to be sent over long distances without losing too much power. Substations do this by using transformers, and these can be used to either increase or decrease the voltage of electric currents. Decreasing the voltage of electricity can be important at distribution substations as it needs to be made less powerful and safe before it enters your house.

Once it passes through the first substation transformer, your electricity makes its way to the transmission networks.

 

Transmission networks

The transmission networks help shift electricity from power stations on to distribution networks to facilitate delivery to households, businesses, and other end users. At this stage, the electricity remains at a high voltage since it still needs to move across vast distances.

The transmission networks are made up of overhead lines on metal pylons or lines buried under the ground. These lines are designed to carry ultra-high voltages and they’re insulated to prevent the electric current from accidentally moving to the ground, where it can be dangerous for people.

 

Second substation transformer

At the second substation transformer point, your electricity is reduced in voltage, again through the use of transformers, to make it safe for use by households and end users. At this point, the electricity is considered to have reached the distribution network and left the transmission network.

The type of substation and voltage can vary depending on the use and location. For example, in rural areas, smaller substations might be used to reduce the voltage to around 33,000 volts, which makes it suitable for powering trains and factories. In urban areas with factories, the voltage could range between 11,000 and 33,000 volts to serve smaller factories. Contrast with delivery to homes, offices, and business, where the neighbourhood transformer might lower the voltage to as little as 230 volts.

 

Distribution power lines

Once your electricity leaves the substation transformer, it enters distribution power lines on its way to the final destination. Power lines can be overhead or underground, and they’re a familiar sight in most areas around Australia. Once it reaches your neighbourhood, the electricity passes through a small pole-top transformer for another voltage reduction. This ensures it’s safe to use inside the home, office, or business.

 

Your home

Your electricity passes through the service drop and gets recorded at your metre. The metre tracks how much electricity you use. At your switchboard, your electricity gets divided up into circuits for each area of your house. Finally, the electricity moves through wires behind your walls to power outlets and switches, where you operate your lights and appliances.

It’s easy to take the electricity used to light your house for granted, but this precious energy source has travelled a long way, through the complex generation and transmission infrastructure, to get to your house. Knowing this, you’re probably less likely to take electricity for granted when you next switch on your light or power up the TV.

 

WINTER IS COMING! HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR WINTER

Winter-is-Coming

As the season slowly shifts from fall to winter, taking the time to prepare your home for cooler months is highly recommended. Proactive home maintenance can thwart unwanted disruption from unexpected bills and weather-related problems.

Below are six areas of your home that should be considered when preparing your home for winter.

Fireplaces
For those ready to enjoy a true wood burning fireplace, having the chimney inspected before lighting it for the first time is always a good idea. Inspections can be done once a year and often signal the need for cleaning. Blockages accumulate in the form of soot and creosote. While soot can impact the performance of the fireplace, creosote is highly flammable and may lead to a chimney fire. Find a reputable chimney sweep to inspect and clean your fireplace.

Furnaces and portable heaters
Furnaces and heaters left unserviced are often those that quit working in the dead of winter. It is recommended to service a furnace annually. Preventing both health risks (like carbon monoxide leakages) and other malfunctions, furnace servicing would be irresponsible to ignore. A servicing might include ensuring the thermostats are working, looking for leaks, checking electrical connections, lubricating parts, and changing filters. Opting to service your furnace annually is an inexpensive endeavour when compared to the cost of the emergency services and living in the discomfort of the cold.

Drainage
Rather than checking gutters and downspouts once in preparation for fall/winter, it is helpful to check on them regularly. Gutters and downspouts are responsible for diverting thousands of gallons of water away from the exterior and foundation of your home. During fall/winter leaves and debris fall off surrounding trees clogging gutters and wreaking havoc on your drainage system. Uncleared gutters can lead to serious exterior damage to your home including water ingress. Rust and corrosion are also possible when gutters are left unchecked.

Windows and Doors
To save energy, heat, and money, walk around your home to inspect the caulking on windows and doors. Check areas where masonry meets siding around doors and windows. Caulking should be present and free of cracks. When cracking is detected consider adding fresh caulking. Aside from keeping you warm, well-sealed windows and doors also eliminate the likelihood of mould.

Seasonal home maintenance is similar to car maintenance. When ignored, the cost and disruption of putting off simple maintenance will balloon into unnecessary costly bills and frustrating life disruptions. Consider adding this checklist to your calendar and making this part of your annual winter prep routine.

One-off portable heater servicing!

At Camtec we have a great deal that runs all year round! Our one-off portable heater services mean that you only have to worry about one cost to check out your unit, with the no worry and no hassle of hidden charges. We will also be able to let you know if there are any faults with your unit and ensure it is working perfectly to keep you nice and toasty in the winter.

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