One Million Homes
With 80 percent of Victoria’s electricity coming from dirty brown coal, and electricity and gas prices continuing to rise, using energy more efficiently makes good sense.
Ahead of the 2010 state election, the Coalition promised to raise the performance of homes built before 2005 to an average of 5 star.
But since then, no progress towards this goal has been made.
In fact, energy efficiency policy in Victoria has gone backwards. The solar feed-in tariff and solar hot water rebate have been slashed. And the government has tried (but failed) to scrap its one reminaing energy efficiency policy - the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET).
If the government got serious about helping Victorians improve the efficiency of their homes, we could slash a big source of our greenhouse emissions and save billions of litres of water every year for our rivers.
We could also create more than 6000 jobs and help ease cost-of-living pressures, particularly for low-income households.
While thousands of Victorians are responding to rising energy prices by installing insulation, efficient lighting or roof-top solar, low-income households are missing out because they can’t afford the up-front costs and/or because they rent.
That’s why the One Million Homes Plan calls for the roll-out of a comprehensive home retrofit program targeting Victoria’s one million lowest income households by 2025.
The plan could be implemented through a mix of targeted assistance for Victoria's lowest income homeowners, as well as policy measures and financial incentives to assist all other homeowners and landlords invest in improvements.
It’s practical, cost-effective and could be funded by the estimated $2.5 billion the government stands to save over the next 20 years from its energy concessions budget.
As we head towards the next election, all political parties again have the opportunity to commit to bringing our existing housing stock into the 21st century.
But this time to actually deliver.
Why does it matter?
Thermal imaging showing cold air leaking in around draughty doors and windows. Image courtesy of Efficiency Matrix at http://efficiencymatrix.com.au
Show me some stats
- The average star rating of pre-2005 homes is 2 stars or less.
- The average Victorian household spends around $2,800 on their energy bills every year
- Around 60 percent of the energy used in the average household goes on space heating and cooling
- Melbourne electricity prices rose by 84 percent between 2008 and 2012
- Raising performance from 2 to 5 stars can cut overall household energy consumption by more than 30 percent
- The residential sector contributes nearly 20 percent of Victoria’s total greenhouse emissions each year
- Victoria’s 1 million low income households are typically most vulnerable to energy hardship (going without other essential items to pay bills) but generally can’t afford the up-front cost of energy-saving measures
- Around 1.9 million homes (or 86 percent) of homes in Victoria were built before 2005 when the 5-star standard was introduced.
- Energy efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to cut our greenhouse emissions
- Most older homes will see a significant improvement in performance through spending less than $5000
This is what a 1-Star home looks like
A 0- to 2-Star home is hot when it’s hot outside and cold when it’s cold outside.
How do you increase the star rating of a home?
While every house is different, most pre-2005 homes will see a significant improvement in performance from spending less than $5000 on basic measures such as:
What needs to happen now?
- A coordinated and funded comprehensive retrofit program for Victoria’s 1 million concession card-holding households by 2025. This would be the main feature of the next Victorian government’s efforts to improve the sustainability of Victoria’s homes and communities. The program would fund a house visit and energy audit; installation of a suite of retrofit measures to complement what is already there; and delivery by trusted organisations with the skills and experience to ensure safety and efficacy. The program would be funded through direct government assistance for home-owners and a mix of policy measures and financial incentives for landlords.
- Introduce minimum performance standards for energy and water efficiency for residential properties at the point of sale or lease by July 2016. This regulatory measure will deliver improvements beyond low-income homes and can be delivered in tandem with expanded rebate programs such as the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target, reintroduction of solar water heating rebates and rebates for water-efficient products.
- Set a goal of achieving zero net carbon and water efficient new buildings by 2020, making new buildings climate safe and water smart. A cross-sector taskforce should be established by mid-2015 to define standards and develop pathways towards achieving this goal. As an interim measure, standards for new homes should be increased to 8 stars by 2015, including the installation of solar hot water or a water tank.
- Set a target for 30 percent of Victorian homes to have solar water heating or heat pump water heaters by 2024. In 2011 only around 5 percent of Victorian households had solar water heating despite it being the most efficient form of water heating for most homes. While new home building regulations provide a stable demand for solar water heating, stop-start state and federal rebates have damaged the replacement market. This uncertainty is hurting jobs growth and missing emission reduction opportunities.
What will it cost?
While every house is different, most pre-2005 homes will see a significant improvement in performance from spending less than $5000 on basic measures such as draught-sealing, insulation, window treatments and water-efficient fittings.
A 10-year comprehensive retrofit program targeting low-income households would start with a pilot of 5,000-10,000 homes in the first year, increasing to 100,000 homes in later years as the lessons learnt from the pilot were scaled up into full program delivery.
Most of the cost to government in rolling out this program would be covered by an estimated $2.5 billion the Victorian government stands to save in the energy concession payments it makes to households who are struggling to pay their bills.
Getting the rest of our pre-2005 housing stock up to scratch will rely on putting targeted policy and financial incentives in place to drive private investment in the rest of our housing stock (including rental properties) in the most cost-effective way. These measures could include minimum performance standards at point of sale or lease, expanded rebate programs and innovative financing mechanisms to help householders with up-front costs.
And we know from our research and industry experience that most home owners can pay off their investment in retrofit improvements within 7-10 years just through the savings they make on their electricity bills.
And once the initial investment - by government or private householder - is paid off, the savings still keep coming. So it's a win-win situation for everyone.
Read our 2013 One Million Homes industry roundtable report here
The One Million Homes Alliance
We’ve formed an alliance with other groups to make sure our voice is heard load and clear.
The Alliance comprises consumer, social, and environment organisations including Victorian Council of Social Service, Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre, Moreland Energy Foundation, Alternative Technology Association, Kildonan Uniting Care, Victorian Local Government Association and Energy for the People. Our aim is to see a fair and effective scheme put in place to raise existing Victorian homes to a minimum 5 star standard, which will help the State meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Unfortunately it’s a long way from an election promise to action.
In 2014 the Alliance is working to show the Napthine government that Victorians support energy and water efficiency, and that the government needs to deliver a proper plan of action. We are also working with the Opposition to make sure they take a strong One Million Homes policy to the 2014 state election.
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