Home Energy Retrofit Program
This initiative offers homeowners with a pensioner concession card the opportunity to undergo a free energy retrofit for their home – this means donating blinds, lighting, soft furnishings and draught seals as needed in their homes. The program intends to help residents reduce their energy bills, improve their home’s comfort, and contribute to bettering the environment. Other similar programs have been proven to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for aged and disability clients during heatwaves and cold winters. Launched in 2016, the first round of this program assisted 50 Yarra residents.
How does the the program help participants?
Yarra Energy Foundation staff work with residents every step of the way. The free retrofit includes:
- 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
- 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 the free home inspection has been completed and energy saving products have been installed, we sit down with homeowners to provide information on other actions that could be undertaken to reduce energy bills and make their home more comfortable. This process includes:
- A free report on other energy efficiency measures participants may benefit from
- Information about no or low interest loan financing from Good Money, a project of Good Shepherd Microfinance, to assist with funding
- Information on energy efficiency technologies to consider installing such as a new hot water system, air conditioning/heating system, or even solar panels
"Cold air comes down my chimmney, the doors rattle, and my house is very old. Lots of heat escapes. I already have solar but I need to do more as it gets very cold and I don't have central heating." - YEF Reftrofit Participant, 70 years old
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
- 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.
Everyone looks at me like I'm a millionaire because I live here in the neighbourhood, but I'm living in old housewith no money!" - YEF Retrofit Participant, 74 years old
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.
"Just wanted to say thank you for this awesome opportunity of being included in your program. It's made such a difference to our house already. The led globe change and draft proofing of our front door has been wonderful. We never knew our kitchen could look like this." - YEF Retrofit Participant