By Karoline Gore

THE average temperature in South Gippsland has increased by more than 1.06°C in the past century and is growing at a higher rate than most of the country.
Rainfall in the region has been consistently decreasing over the past 10 years.
Simultaneously, intense solar radiation has caused increased evaporation of water restricting the public system and affecting agriculture.
Environmental change starts locally and residents should start to change their habits.

Changes start at home
Climate change is a large issue, but big changes can come from small habit changes on the home front.
Everybody knows that it is more environmentally friendly to have a home garden, buy locally, and drive less but what can citizens do to actively help the environment.
Lowering water usage, harvesting rainwater, and producing your own solar power is the best way to help from home.

Choose energy efficient appliances
When buying for the home, opt for energy friendly appliances that not only save you money but lower your household consumption rate.
In Australia, more than 25per cent of the average household’s energy consumption comes from hot water usage.
Switching from a larger electric storage hot water system to one on the off-peak rate will allow you to heat water during off-peak times and use it whenever you need it. The benefit is that you are putting less strain on the energy system, using water more efficiently, and saving yourself money.

Harvesting rainwater
The South Gippsland area is a predominately rural area and is lucky in the sense that it has more rainfall when compared to the drier inland parts of Australia.
This makes it a great location for harvesting rainwater instead of using costly and environmentally irresponsible public water.
Rainwater harvesting saves the Australian environment over 274 billion litres annually, a number set to increase as more Australians catch on.

Rooftop solar
The South Gippsland area is also blessed with sunshine, perfect for generating electricity at home.
In 2017, households with solar power powered over 1.8 million Australian homes.
Due to these benefits, the state government is currently offering initiatives for those wanting to go green.
Victoria is now offering a 50 per cent rebate on 4kW solar panel systems, a $1000 rebate for the installation of solar hot water heaters and many general energy upgrade discounts and rebates.

Protecting Australia
Collecting and saving water, using power more efficiently, and getting more power from the natural environment helps prevent wastefulness.
Overstretching the local environment will have devastating consequences to the future of our already at-risk water supply and pollution levels.
Change starts from home and can be a major player in the future of the South Gippsland environment allowing increased energy efficiency, more clean energy, and less reliance on public systems.