Zero carbon homes in 10 years

A new report shows how Australia’s existing buildings can cut their energy use in half and reach zero emissions from their operations within ten years.

Under the Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan, the residential sector reduces it annual energy usage by 53 per cent by retrofitting and upgrading existing buildings using existing, commercial off-the-shelf technologies.

Coupled with the installation of solar power systems, energy reduction measures and technologies include full insulation retrofits, draught proofing, efficient window glazing, shading, and electric heat pumps for heating and hot water. Other energy reduction measures include replacing all lights with LEDs, cooking with induction cooktops and installing in-home energy monitoring displays.

Buildings going gas free is a key element of the plan, which has been produced jointly by climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions and The University of Melbourne’s Energy Institute.

Their research found gas appliances to be inefficient and polluting compared to modern electric appliances which can replace them, particularly heat pumps (which are more commonly known as split-system air-conditioners).

As well as the efficiency and emissions issues associated with gas, the Alternative Technology Association’s Energy Policy team are also looking at the cost impacts of gas in the context of expected future domestic gas price increases as the Australian gas export market expands.

“Replacing old gas space and water heating with efficient electric [heating] is already the most cost effective option in the long term,” said ATA’s Energy Policy Advocate Craig Memery.

He said the only appliance gas remains the cheaper option for (over the life cycle) is stovetop cooking, because the upfront cost of the electric equivalent (induction) is higher once the cost of electrical upgrades and new cookware are factored in.

Despite this, he said switching from dual fuel to all electric is the best option for those that can afford the upfront cost.

“Economically, this plan is a good news story,” said the Building Plan’s lead author Trent Hawkins. “Today Australian households spend $15 billion per year on electricity and gas bills. Our modelling shows that this plan could save up to $40 billion over the next 30 years, compared to business as usual.”

The plan can be found on Beyond Zero Emissions’ website

You can also buy the plan from the ATA webshop

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