One Million Homes
Imagine a Victoria where electricity price rises didn't cause a ripple because all Victorians - homeowners and renters alike - lived in energy-efficient homes, even making their own electricity from the sun.
Where homes were more comfortable to live in - warmer in winter and cooler in summer - and vulnerable Victorians were shielded from the health impacts of extreme weather events like heatwaves.
Where thousands of Victorians were employed in a thriving energy efficiency industry, manufacturing, selling and installing efficiency measures like insulation, efficient lighting and draught-sealing in our homes.
And where smart energy and water use in our homes was helping us cut greenhouse emissions, fight climate change and save water for our rivers.
That's the One Million Homes vision for Victoria. The One Million Homes Plan calls for the roll-out of a comprehensive home retrofit program, with a focus on Victoria's one million low-income households, to upgrade our housing stock to an average 5 star and 100 litre/person/day performance standard by 2025.
The plan could be implemented through a mix of targeted assistance for home-owners in the lowest income bracket, as well as policy measures and financial incentives to assist all other home-owners 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.
So what are we waiting for?
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. 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.
- 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 VEET, 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 and how would it be funded?
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.
The program could be funded through a combination of direct assistance for lowest income home-owners, and a mix of financial incentives (such as rebates and low-interest loans), market-based schemes such as the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) and policy measures such as minimum standards to encourage and assist the rest of Victoria's home-owners and landlords to invest in upgrades.
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.
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.
The Alliance is working to show the State government that Victorians support energy and water efficiency, and that it needs to deliver a proper plan of action.
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