Dr Helen Haines (Indi MP) and Dr Saul Griffith’s (Rewiring Australia) opinion piece published on 10th August in the Alpine Observer puts families at the centre of energy policy. It highlights five ways governments can help communities reduce cost of living pressures and build their own energy resilience.
But what can we do now to reduce our costs of living, and build resilience against worsening climate impacts, such as fires and floods, prolonged cold and hot spells? Haines and Griffith advise one way is to fully electrify our homes which could save up to $5000 a year. They also suggest the government could provide interest free $10,000 loans. What will that buy us?
We need to act now, not when parliament gets around to it. We could for example take some steps by upgrading our own homes to maximize energy savings, we could spend our children’s inheritance on them now to give them greater long term financial security by assisting them to put PV panels on their roof etc.
How can we do this? Below are estimates to give you a guide using the Haines & Griffith suggestion of a $10,000 starting point. Of course, it’s always wise to seek professional advice before making decisions.
This should save $1000-2000 per year, which means your return on investment (ROI) is greater than 10%. Which bank offers returns like this annually, for 25 years? $10,000 should allow you to install a 6.6kW high quality solar system with a 25-year warranty on the solar panels plus a 90% solar production warranty for 25 years.
This system should save $1500-2000 per year and ROI is greater than 10%. For this amount you could install a high-quality heat pump hot water system powered by your 6.6 Solar PV system during the day. Hot water is usually 20% of our home energy bills. A quality heat pump uses CO2 refrigerant which is more environmentally friendly and is quieter, running at less than 40dB. They also use less than 1kWh to heat.
This system should save $2000-3000 per year and ROI is greater than 10%. This option has the same benefits as for the previous point, plus you can increase your solar PV to a 10kW system.
This system should save $3000-4000 per year and ROI is greater than 10%. With this option, by adding a 9.8kWh battery to the above package, energy resilience and energy security is increased even more.
Solar Victoria has subsidies which also provide financial assistance. A solar system with battery will continue to operate if the electricity supply is interrupted. This increases the home’s energy resilience as it means refrigerators and freezers will be able to keep running. This was an issue in Corryong where power was disrupted for weeks during the 2019 bushfires.
Invest your savings if you are able to, in an electric vehicle to save even more costs.
Sustainable Upper Ovens Inc is working with Indigo Power on a community battery feasibility study along with Towards Renewable Energy Kiewa, Myrtleford Community Energy and the Alpine Shire Council. We are also helping community groups to install more solar PV and heat pumps on our community buildings.
Helen Haines and Saul Griffith provide sound advice for the ways in which governments can genuinely support rural communities to build energy resilience at a local level. We all have a role to play in this process however and even the small steps we take depending on our circumstances, can combine to create a much larger effect for the better.
Join with Sustainable Upper Ovens to help build greater energy resilience in our community. We hope to see you at our stall at the Bright Make it, Bake it, Grow it market, at our regular meetings or the AGM on Sunday September 18.
Sustainable Upper Ovens Inc
Community Energy and EV group