A project designed to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of Australian houses and reduce power bills is aiming to upgrade more than one million homes by the end of the decade.
The scheme, backed by more than 74 organisations and delivered through the Race for 2030 co-operative research centre, launched on Wednesday at the All-Energy Conference in Melbourne.
It will ultimately target upgrades to more than eight million homes built before energy ratings were introduced in Australia.
The project launched on the same day as research from Monash University showed households could save $4.9 billion a year by switching from gas to electrical appliances.
Industry and academic institutes will contribute to the Energy Upgrades for Australian Homes project, including environmental group Climate-KIC, universities in Queensland, Victoria, NSW, South Australia and the CSIRO.
Monash Sustainable Development Institute research deputy director Rob Raven said individual programs were already available to help Australians increase their homes’ energy efficiency but simple, integrated solutions were needed to help more households make changes.
“A key focus in this project is on meeting people and communities where they are,” Professor Raven said.
“We need to make sure home energy upgrades work in practice for real people with real lives no matter where in Australia they live and what sort of housing they’re living in.”
The project will investigate a range of ways to improve household energy use, including the installation of efficient, electric appliances, electric heat pumps and reverse-cycle air-conditioning, insulation, gap sealing, and solar panels with battery storage.
Residential homes are responsible for 24 per cent of electricity use and more than 10 per cent of carbon emissions, according to federal government estimates.
Six pilot programs are expected to be tested as part of the project, rolling out in different climates, in different building types, and for both private and public housing tenants.
Based on its findings, the project is expected to launch an online platform to give Australians more information, tools and guidelines on how to improve their homes.
Race for 2030 chief executive Jon Jutsen said more than one million homes would be upgraded as part of the project but it would ultimately be designed to help many more Australians improve their energy efficiency.
“The key is (the) scale-up of decarbonisation of existing homes,” he said.
It’s estimated Australian households could cut energy use by between 30 and 50 per cent with efficient upgrades, reduce costs by 20 to 40 per cent, and save up to $600 per year on power bills.
Upgrading one million homes could also cut the equivalent of two million tonnes of carbon emissions.
(Australian Associated Press)