Slash Emissions, Slash Energy Bills with Energy Efficiency

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With energy efficiency, we can slash carbon emissions AND energy bills. Energy efficiency is also very popular. And even the current weak energy efficiency schemes are delivering more savings than solar PV.

We call on all election candidates to demand much stronger energy efficiency policies. Please add your voice. Click here for suggestions on email text to send to candidates.

Here are our main asks.

Minimum Energy Standards for Rental Properties

People want to reduce their carbon emissions, reduce their energy bills AND stay comfortable. Homeowner can do this with insulation, efficient appliances, window shading etc. But many landlords rent out leaky, inefficient homes.  So renters must pay high energy bills – or they freeze in winter and overheat in summer.

Rental support groups have been demanding energy standards for DECADES. Environment Victoria calculate that renters could save nearly $850 per year with basic efficiency measures. This also means huge savings in carbon emissions, plus green jobs.

We will get efficient rental properties only when governments make it compulsory. Tax incentives  don’t work. Many landlords won’t bother paying for improvements when they don’t get the benefit.

Other places are requiring rental properties to improve energy efficiency, e.g. New ZealandEngland and Wales, and Queensland. Victoria must do it too.

What are the barriers? The Real Estate industry claim it will drive up rents. They ignore the large energy bills that renters face. Homeowners find that many energy efficiency measures have short payback periods (e.g. insulation, draught sealing, upgrading space and water heaters, window shading, and ceiling fans). If it is economical for homeowners, it is also for rental properties. Governments could reduce any rental increases by allowing landlords to claim a tax deductions for energy efficiency measures on their properties (i.e. classify these as repairs).

Stop Building “Hotbox” Apartments

Apartment blocks are sprouting in inner Melbourne. Many apartments are badly designed and become hotboxes during summer. This will worsen with climate change.  Hot dwellings are bad for residents’ health and their wallets. Many residents rely excessively on air conditioning, which wastes money and carbon emissions. If there are power cuts during a heat wave, residents are at risk of heat stress.  A recent study of six Melbourne apartments found that NONE met international standards during heatwaves.

What should governments do?

  • Many apartments overheat because there is no cross-ventilation. Apartments need windows on two or more sides to get the cooling “cross flow”. The Victorian government’s new standard requires only 40% of apartments in a block to have cross-ventilation. 60% of apartments can overheat. Yet in older blocks, most apartments allow cross ventilation. It should be required in all new developments.
  • Second, we need stronger energy standards in the Building Code. Governments need to mandate separate star ratings for summer and winter. Apartments may perform well in winter, but overheat in summer. Details here.
  • Third, we need changes to the Owners Corporation Act so apartment owners are allowed to install sustainability measures, such as window shading. Details here.

Strengthen the Victorian Energy Upgrades Scheme

The Victorian Energy Upgrades Scheme gives households discounts for energy efficiency products and services. But this has a weak target, and has mostly been used for upgrading lighting. The current scheme doesn’t include some effective products such as insulation, window shading and ceiling fans. The government should massively expand this program and increase the type of products allowed.

Low Interest Loan Scheme for Efficiency Upgrades

The Victorian government is funding energy efficiency upgrades for 1,000 low income households. That’s great, but we need so much more.

We call on the state government to make low interest loans available for all low income households for energy efficiency upgrades, with homeowners paying the loan back through rates.

Excessive Voltage Wastes Energy and Emissions

Since 2000, nominal electricity voltages in Australia have been 230 V (with tolerance band of +10% to –6%). Yet many electricity companies still operate at excessively high voltages (around 250 V).

This causes problems such as:

  • Wasted electricity for lighting and some motors – hence higher electricity bills and higher carbon emissions
  • Reduced life of some appliances
  • Connection difficulties for homeowners with solar PV

Excessive voltages are a climate issue. We need government legislation to ensure electricity companies stop operating at these excessive voltages. More details on “Conservation Voltage Reduction” here. Details of an Australian case study here.

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