Households could halve electricity bills with upgrades

Australians living in older homes have the potential to halve their energy bills with fairly modest renovations, a study has revealed.

The Climate-Ready Homes report, released by Monash University on Wednesday, found households could save as much as $2195 a year with energy-efficient upgrades such as insulation and more efficient appliances.

But it warned the greatest savings may require state and federal government assistance to ensure all households become more efficient.

Monash University Climateworks Centre chief executive Anna Skarbek launched the report at Parliament House in Canberra, saying its findings proved households could cut costs while also reducing pollution.

“Supporting home upgrades can help reduce energy bills and prepare homes for more frequent extreme temperatures while reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change,” she said.

The report analysed 16 home designs common in Australia, including five types of houses, six types of townhouses and five apartment styles.

Researchers investigated three levels of renovation to improve energy-efficiency, ranging from quick-fix renovations to modest and climate-ready changes.

It found homes built before 2003, when minimum energy-efficiency standards were introduced, could improve energy use by installing insulation in ceilings, floors and walls, adding heavy drapes or roller shutters to windows, using electric heat pumps and investing in double-glazing.

Other improvements included replacing gas with electric appliances for hot water and cooking and adding rooftop solar panels.

The report found households could save up to 51 per cent of energy costs with a full array of upgrades, or an average of $2195 each year in a house, $1476 a year in a townhouse and $1188 in apartments.

But the report warned top-of-the-line upgrades would not meet the “benefit-to-cost ratio” for all home types, meaning government support would be needed to help some households achieve savings.

Climateworks Centre program impact manager Gill Armstrong said federal and state governments should consider offering financial assistance to low-income households, renters and First Nations people looking to cut power bills.

“Direct government subsidies can support vulnerable households in which owner-occupiers are unable to access financing,” Dr Armstrong said.

“Upgrading homes to the ‘climate-ready’ renovation level … would achieve the most significant energy savings and emissions reductions but households need policy support to make this level of renovation cost-effective.”

The report recommended a national framework for minimum energy-efficiency standards in new homes, energy-efficient rating disclosures at the point of sale or lease and that states and territories consider phasing out gas in new homes by mid-2024.

The report comes two months after the Race for 2030 co-operative research centre launched its Energy Upgrades for Australian Homes project that will seek to make one million older homes more energy-efficient.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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