Households Overspending by $2000 on Winter Heating - Climate Council

Australian households could save an average of $2000 per year by upgrading thermal efficiency and swapping gas appliances for electric ones.

According to a report from the Climate Council released earlier this year, many Australian households are still not fitted with proper insulation to accommodate for our winters. The report also found that gas appliances are eating into energy bills for many Australians; those households could potentially save an average of $1033 per year if they made the switch to modern, electrically-powered appliances, says the Climate Council.

Plug The Gaps - Thermal Efficiency

A survey of Australian homes from 2022 found that significant proportion were so cold that they actually fell below the World Health Organization’s recommended ‘safe temperature’ range. The reason for this in most cases could be attributed to a lack of proper winter insulation - gaps, cavities and other channels for warm air to leak out of the house. In other words, these houses are ‘thermally inefficient’.

Of course this varies across the country.The colder it gets, the more important thermal efficiency is to saving on energy costs. For example, according to the Climate Council’s data, installing proper ceiling insulation in a 2-star home in Melbourne would save an average of $250 a year, whereas in tropical Brisbane the same upgrade would save an average of $107 a year.

  Adelaide Brisbane Canberra Hobart Melbourne Perth Sydney National
Ceiling insulation $352 $107 $423 $420 $250 $236 $163 $279
Wall insulation $310 $94 $372 $370 $220 $208 $143 $245
Draught Sealing $270 $82 $324 $322 $192 $181 $125 $214
Ceiling insulation top-up $147 $45 $176 $175 $104 $99 $68 $116
Secondary glazing $142 $24 $171 $269 $101 $56 $39 $65
Reducing sub-floor ventilation $83 $24 $99 $98 $59 $55 $38 $65
Sealing wall cavaties $69 $21 $83 $82 $49 $46 $32 $55
Total Bill savings $1226 $354 $1471 $1561 $869 $783 $539 $972

"Interestingly, ceiling insulation and draught proofing are two of the cheapest options, but they also have the greatest savings,” says Dr Carl Tidemann, a co-author on the Climate Council report. 

"It's about doing the really low-hanging fruit that have really high cost savings.”

Get Rid Of Gas - Electrification

Switching from instant gas hot water heating to a high-efficiency electric heat pump, from gas heating to electric reverse cycle air conditioning, from a gas stove to an induction stovetop/electric oven, could save you more than $1000 per year, according to the Climate Council report.

  Adelaide Brisbane Canberra Hobart Melbourne Perth Sydney National
Switching from instant gas hot water heating to a high-efficiency electric heat pump $448 $689 $359 $420 $431 $202 $464 $437
Switching from gas heating to electric reverse cycle air conditioning $371 $183 $604 $587 $493 $35 $191 $338
Switching from a gas cooker to an induction stovetop and electric oven $15 $107 $20 $43 $51 $0 $14 $31
Removing daily gas supply fees $215 $254 $252 $215 $326 $98 $229 $227
Total bill savings from electrifying $948 $1233 $1236 $1311 $1301 $302 $898 $1033
Combined savings from electrification and thermal upgrades $2174 $1588 $2707 $3872 $2170 $1085 $1436 $2005

"Switching fuels is really important for electrification, but not if your house is just going to leak all that heating and cooling,” continues Tidemann

"The thermal efficiency of homes is a step that needs to be taken before, if not concurrently with, fuel switching." 

But How Do I Pay For It?

That all sounds great, but what about the upfront costs? Double-glazed windows and ceiling insulation certainly aren’t free, and you might not see those savings for a long while.

The Climate Council is calling for a national rollout of zero-interest loan programs to assist with upfront costs. And if you live in either the ACT or Tasmania, you could already be eligible for similar state-funded programs. Some households in the ACT, for example, can access a zero-interest, 10-year loan of up to $15,000 to pay for thermal efficiency upgrades.

The good news is there are still smaller things you can do to save on heating costs, even if you can’t afford the full overhaul, like changing your light fittings if your current ones are allowing air to escape around them, or closing off drafty areas of the house while the heating is on. Simply being aware of the money leaking out of your home during those winter months is the first step.

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