The Yarra Energy Foundation, in partnership with Yarra City Council, has launched a pilot retrofit project for homeowners who have a pensioner concession card. The FREE program will recruit 40 households and set out to help residents reduce their energy bills, identify ways to improve their home’s comfort, and contribute to bettering the environment.
How will the the program help participants?
Yarra Energy Foundation staff will work with residents every step of the way. The free retrofit will include:
- A home visit to audit participating homes and prepare a report on what and how improvements can be made;
- Installing quality lighting to reduce energy bills and brighten the home;
- Installing IKEA curtains, blinds, rugs and blankets to improve comfort in both summer and winter; and
- Installing quality door seals on front and back doors to prevent draughts (warm air escaping in the winter or cool air escaping in the summer).
Once we have completed the free home inspection and installed energy saving products, we will sit down with homeowners to provide information on other actions to reduce energy bills and make their home more comfortable. This process includes:
- A free report on other energy efficiency measures your home may benefit from;
- Information about no or low interest loan financing from Good Money, a project of Good Shepherd Microfinance, to assist with funding; and
- Information on energy efficiency technologies to consider installing such as a new hot water system, air conditioning/heating system, or even solar panels.
So Why Are We Doing It?
The City of Yarra has a significant population of vulnerable residents. This project will focus on low-income homeowners, which include the aged and those with disabilities. Some local demographics include:
- 18% of households are considered low income; this translates to approximately 6000 households in Yarra;
- 24% of Yarra residents are over the age of 50; and,
- approximately 3000 people or 4% of the population report needing help in their day-to-day lives due to disability.
Energy efficiency retrofits and solar panel installation are beyond the reach of many households in the City of Yarra. The average Victorian household spends around $2800 on their energy bills ($1000 is used for gas and $1800 for electricity) every year, and Melbourne electricity prices rose by 84% between 2008 and 2012. With climbing energy prices, fuel poverty is a serious issue across Australia; the Brotherhood of St. Laurence has found that households with a person with a disability account for more than 50% of the fuel poor.
Around 86% of Victoria’s housing stock was constructed prior to the energy efficiency regulations (e.g. the 5 star standards) that were introduced in 2005; an efficient household can save around 40% of an average household’s energy costs. There are some very simple and affordable measures that can be taken to greatly improve household energy efficiency.
Who is helping out?
This program would not be possible without the support of some key Yarra businesses, including IKEA and Good Money, and the continued support of Yarra City Council.