One Million Homes | Environment Victoria

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One Million Homes

The Promise

Ahead of the 2010 state election, the Coalition committed to significantly improving the energy and water efficiency of houses built in Victoria before 2005 when the 5-Star standard for new homes and renovations was introduced. [1]

But since then, no action has been taken to deliver on this promise.
Show that you care about this broken promise. Sign the petition >
If the Coalition government had begun implementing the One Million Homes plan we called for in 2010, by now we would have avoided millions of tonnes of greenhouse emissions in wasted electricity use, saved billions of litres of water and created thousands of new jobs in trades and manufacturing. And thousands of Victorians would be living in homes that were more comfortable to live in and cheaper to run. 
The One Million Homes plan calls for direct government assistance to retrofit the homes of low-income Victorians (those most vulnerable to bill stress), and a mix of policy measures and financial incentives to encourage home-owners and landlords to invest in improvements.
It’s practical, cost-effective and will save the government $2.5 billion over 20 years in energy concessions that assist low-income households with their bills.
As we head towards the next election, all the major 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?

Every time we experience a record-breaking heatwave like ones in 2009 and 2014 [2] or a severe cold snap, the costs mount up. Electricity and water use soars, as do our household bills and our greenhouse emissions. The electricity grid struggles to cope with the spike in demand, threatening blackouts and fuelling high prices. [3] And tragically, hundreds of Victorians lose their lives, making extreme weather events (particularly heatwaves) responsible for more deaths each year than any other natural disaster.[4]
But there’s nothing inevitable or unavoidable about many of these impacts – a large chunk of which can be blamed on the ineffectiveness of our responses and in particular the poor quality of our housing. 

Thermal imaging showing cold air leaking in around draughty doors and windows. Image courtesy of Efficiency Matrix at

From 2005 new homes and extensions have been required to be built to a minimum 5-Star standard and this has since been increased to 6-Star. But 1.9 million of Victoria’s 2.2 million homes were built before 2005, at a time when water conservation, energy efficiency and energy prices were a long way from builders’ and residents’ minds.
Too many of us live in homes that use too much energy to stay comfortable, generating millions of tonnes of greenhouse emissions every year and costing us money in unnecessary power bills. For many Victorians that cost is simply unaffordable, consequently costing the Government millions more in energy concessions. [5]
Energy efficiency is also one of the most effective and cheapest ways to cut our greenhouse emissions, and is a premium area for employment growth.
Tell the government to invest in weather-proofing our homes here >

Show me some stats

  • A 5-Star home uses 50 percent less energy for heating and cooling compared with a typical 2-star home, saving residents $200 on average per year [6]
  • Melbourne electricity prices rose by 84 percent between 2008 and 2012 [7]
  • Residential energy use has increased by 56 percent since 1990 [8]
  • The residential sector contributes nearly 20 percent of Victoria’s total greenhouse emissions each year [9]
  • 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
  • Victoria has around 1.9 million homes which were built before 2005 when the 5-star standard was introduced. [10]
  • The average star rating of pre-2005 homes is 2 stars or less.[11]
  • Most older Victorian homes can lift their rating to 4 stars for around $5000 [12]
Retrofitting 1 million Victorian homes would deliver emission reductions of over 2 million tonnes annually, water savings of 32 billion litres annually, energy bill savings of $300-$600 annually per household and create up to 6,700 new trades and manufacturing jobs.  And it would save the State Government $2.5 billion over 20 years in energy concession payments.[13]

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.

There’s lots of air transfer through draughts and gaps; not much effective insulation in the roof, walls or floor; and heat radiates straight in or straight out through windows.
And when you consider that about 60 percent of an average Victorian household’s energy bill goes on heating and cooling, that’s potentially quite a lot of money ‘blowing in the wind’.


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:

·         Quality weather sealing and draught sealing
·         Roof insulation to R-value 3.9
·         Internal window coverings (thick blinds or curtains) and pelmets
·         External window shading on west and north walls
Check out some real life examples of household retrofits in West Heidelberg, Ballarat and Castlemaine

What needs to happen now?

 Victoria already has a minimum 6-Star standard in place for all new homes and renovations. So the next big task is to bring the rest of Victoria’s homes up to scratch and into the 21st century. Increasing the efficiency of these older homes is a big project, and the State government needs to take a lead in making it happen.
The One Million Homes Alliance is calling on the government to commit to progressively improving the standard of all of Victoria’s pre-2005 homes over 10 years, with a focus on low-income households. 
We can get this done most cost-effectively with a combination of government investment in retrofits for low income households, and a range of policy measures that create real incentives for home-owners and landlords to upgrade their properties.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. [14]. 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.
Read our report Liveable Homes, Liveable Future for more information about these policy options.

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.[15]

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

Read our 2.5 billion reasons to invest in efficiency report here

There’s a lot we stand to gain.

By retrofitting One Million Homes in Victoria, our government could:

  • go a long way towards dealing with climate change
  • create up to 6,900 new green jobs
  • reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 2.4 million tonnes
  • save 32.5 billion litres of water for our rivers
  • ensure that our buildings and homes are climate change ready, protecting us from heatwaves, cold-snaps and dryer conditions
  • save Victorian households on average $296 per year on utility bills that are already rising and set to rise more
  • produce $296 million in benefits to the Victorian community per year
  • support low income households and those suffering from energy hardship

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 such as Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre, Moreland Energy Foundation, Victorian Council of Social Services and the Alternative Technology Association. 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.

Hop here to see who's involved

Convinced? Click here to take action

And here are some other ways to support the campaign


Dig deeper - One Million Homes Resources

2013-14 State Budget Submission - One Million Homes

2012-13 State Budget Submission - One Million Homes

Energy Saver Incentive Review - Environment Victoria



[1]    "A Liberal Nationals Coalition Government will support the transition of all existing housing stock to meet an average of 5 star energy rating."  2010 Liberal Nationals Coalition Plan for Planning
[2]    Bureau of Meteorology, National Climate Centre (2014), “One of south-east Australia’s most significant heatwaves”, p.5.
[3]    Australian Energy Market Operator AEMO (2014) “Increased Electricity Demand In Victoria And South Australia”, Media release, 15 January 2014 at [Accessed 6 February 2014]
[4]    PriceWaterhouse Coopers (2011) Protecting Human Health and safety during severe and extreme heat events – a national framework, p.3.
[5]    ATA (2012) “Modelling the impact of improving the energy efficiency of Victoria’s homes on the Victorian Energy Concessions Budget”, A Report by Australian Technology Association for the One Million Homes Alliance, at [Accessed 6 February 2014]
[6]    Building Commission (2008) 5 Star for new houses, renovations and relocations, Victorian Government at [Accessed 6 February 2014]
[7]     ABS (2012), Australian Social Trends, Sep 2012, Pub 4102.0 at [Accessed 6 February 2014]
[8]    DEHWA (2008) “Energy use in the Australian residential sector”, Commonwealth Department of Environment, Heritage, Water and the Arts, Available at: [Accessed 18 February 2014]
[9]    GWA (2008) “Victoria’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions: End-use allocation of emissions”, A report prepared for the Department of Sustainability and Environment by George Wilkenfeld & Ass., Available at: [Accessed 18 February 2014]
[10]    ABS (2010) State and Regional Indicators, Victoria, Jun 2010, Pub 1367.2 at [Accessed 6 February 2014]
[11]    National House Energy Rating Scheme at, [Accessed 6 February 2014]
[12]    This figure is based on industry advice and the experience of Alliance members in implementing similar programs. It is to be expected that this cost would come down over time due to the economies of scale of implementing a broad-scale program.
[13]    Alternative Technology Association for the One Million Homes Alliance (2012) “2.5 billion reasons to invest in efficiency”, Available at
[14]    ABS (2011) “Household Water and Energy Use, Victoria”, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Pub. 4602.2, Available at:

[15]    This is an estimate based on industry advice and the experience of Alliance members in implementing similar programs. It is to be expected that the actual cost of each retrofit will vary depending on individual circumstances, and this cost would come down over time due to the economies of scale of implementing a broad-scale program.

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