Howard in Newport lives in a 1940s Californian Bungalow weatherboard home. He was getting fed up with his constantly increasing energy bills and wanted to take advantage of the state government’s newly introduced Energy Saver Incentive to improve his home affordably.
Howard asked Energy Makeovers to investigate the cause for the high energy bills and provide advice on how to make the most of the Energy Saver Incentive. His top three priorities were to protect the garden by conserving water, reduce carbon pollution and increase comfort.
The Pain Points
A pair of our assessors visited the property to interview Howard and assess his family’s energy usage. The annual energy bill total amounted to almost $1300 (producing 10.3 tonnes of carbon emissions per year), excluding the firewood that the family used at the fireplace in winter.
We found that the home lacked any insulation, and the old gravity-fed electric hot water system had developed a small leak. Parts of the house were unbearably uncomfortable in winter and summer due to draughts from the chimneys, floorboards and old windows as well as a lack of a central cooling/heating system.
The home energy rating of the house was calculated to be 0 stars.
Based on the home assessment we compiled an Energy Makeovers Roadmap report for Howard, which detailed his family’s energy usage and showed our recommendations and advice on improving his home. The recommended projects cost $4550 in total to install and are expected to save $680 per year, thereby paying for themselves in 6.7 years and reducing carbon emissions by 59%. We did not recommend a project for water conservation as Howard had just installed a 2kL rainwater tank for the garden.
“The home audit was a really interesting exercise,” Howard said. “You live in a house and you know about the drafts, and where the sun beats on the windows and that sort of thing. I guess you just put up with all these things. But when you realise that they are what’s causing your bills to be so high, it makes you say ‘right. I’m going to change that’. And we did.”
Howard replaced the old electric hot water system with a new instant gas on demand system, which only switches on when they turn on the hot tap. He also replaced all their light bulbs with new compact fluorescent lights, and installed insulation batts in the ceiling. “It’s made a huge difference – with the power bills it’s like turning the clock back about six years,” Howard said.
With all the current and future recommended improvements completed, Howard’s home could potentially achieve a home energy rating of 5 stars. The Energy Saver Incentive scheme provided discounts on the gas system, and the insulation and the light bulbs were free. Howard is also considering special offers for weather sealing and chimney dampers. Combined with a recently installed solar panel system, the savings were significant.