One Million Homes | Environment Victoria

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One Million Homes

The Promise

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.

Tell the government to invest in weather-proofing our homes here >

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.

Tell the government to invest in weather-proofing our homes here >

 

Why does it matter?

Every time we experience a record-breaking heatwave like ones in 2009 and 2014 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.
 
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.
 
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 http://efficiencymatrix.com.au

 
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.
 
Raising the efficiency of a home from 2 to 5 stars could save a household up to $600 a year on their energy bills. But low-income households - those who need the savings the most - are missing out because they can't afford the up-front costs, and/or because they rent.
 
Energy efficiency is also one of the cheapest and fastest 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

  • 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
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.
 

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 a lot 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 heating and cooling accounts for about half of total energy use in the average Victorian household, that’s potentially quite a lot of money ‘blowing in the wind’.
 

 

How do you increase the star rating of a home?

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.
 

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
·         Energy efficient lighting
·         Low-flow shower heads (which not only save water, but reduce energy use for hot water
 
Check out some real life examples of household retrofits in Rosanna, 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. 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.

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
 


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.
 

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

One Million Homes: A 2010 Energy and Water Efficiency Campaign

2.5 Billion reasons to invest in efficiency


News

Environment Victoria pushes for grants to help low income earners make their homes more energy efficient
2 September 2014

Environment, social sector slam VEET decision
22 May 2014

Media release: Cutting efficiency won’t cut energy costs
21 May 2014

Token efforts in managing heatwaves
11 February 2014

Vic Government could save $ 2.5 billion in heating bills
5 May 2014

Embarrassing retreat on VEET for Napthine Government

17 October 2014

Environment Victoria today said the successful Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) scheme and 2000 workers in the energy savings sector have had a stay of execution with the Napthine Government failing...

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Rising energy retailer complaints require action

16 October 2014

The rising rate of utilities disconnections and complaints revealed by the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria must prompt government action to address the underlying causes of energy hardship, warns the One...

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Social, environment sector welcome State Opposition support for VEET

8 August 2014

Victoria’s peak social justice and environmental organisations have welcomed the State Opposition’s statements in Parliament yesterday in support of the Victorian Energy Efficiency...

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'Leaky homes' paying the price

20 December 2013
Castlemaine Mail


...

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Poorly insulated homes costing Melburnians money

21 Novemberr 2013
Troels Sommerville, Moorabbin Glen Eira Leader
DRAFTY houses and lack of insulation are costing families across Victoria big power bills, according to a...
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Australian cleantech industry nears $30bn – bigger than car making

18 March 2013
Giles Parkinson, Renew Economy

The Australian cleantech sector boasts revenue of $29 billion a year and employs 53,000 people, making it larger than...

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Energy efficiency 'means savings'

Monday, 10 September 2012
Climate Spectator

A new report, “2.5 billion reasons to invest in...

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Vic premier says six-star rating will stay

Tuesday, 17 April 2012
9 News 

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu says the government has no plans to dump six-star energy rules for new homes.

The six-star energy efficiency standard has been a state...

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Throwing out building standards would damage environment and hurt household budgets

Monday, 16 April 2012

Environment Victoria has warned the Baillieu Government today that abandoning its pre-election commitment on building standards for new homes and renovations...

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Coalition urged to increase home energy ratings

Monday, April 9 2012
Tom Arup, The Age

Environment and welfare groups have questioned a lack of progress by the Baillieu government on its election promise to...

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