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Australian homes can be made climate-ready

by Craig on February 14, 2024

If you live in Australia, chances are you live in a leaky home. Millions of homes were built before Australia introduced housing energy efficiency standards in 2003. They have gaps around windows, doors, and between building materials that allow air to move in and out. This means you need more heating and cooling to keep your home comfortable. It also means you pay more for your energy bills and contribute more to greenhouse gas emissions.

But what if you could make your home more climate-ready? What if you could improve its insulation, glazing, curtains, and airtightness, and reduce your energy use, bills, and emissions? And what if you could do it in a cost-effective way, with benefits for your health and well-being?

A new report from Climateworks Centre shows how this is possible. The report, called Renovation Pathways, identifies ways governments and the private sector can enable home energy performance upgrades in a coordinated manner. The report shows that a widespread ‘renovation wave’ can be cost-effective, with considerable societal benefits from lower energy system costs and improved health outcomes.

The report analysed 16 types of homes, from 102,000 homes, that cover about 80 per cent of single-storey detached homes and townhouses and over 50 per cent of apartments in Australia. It found that ‘quick-fix’ and ‘modest’ thermal upgrades, such as adding insulation, sealing gaps, and installing efficient lighting, are largely cost-effective for households to undertake, even if not bundled with other home renovations. These upgrades can save households an average of between $1,690 and $2,002 each year on their energy bills, respectively. They can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of between 2.1 and 2.5 tonnes of CO2 per home per year, respectively.

The report also found that upgrading houses to the ‘climate-ready’ renovation level, which includes higher levels of insulation, double glazing, heavy drape curtains, and airtightness, would achieve significant emissions reductions, but households need policy support to make these renovations cost-effective. The ‘climate-ready’ level can save households an average of $2,002 each year on their energy bills and reduce emissions by an average of 3.1 tonnes of CO2 per home per year. However, the upfront costs are higher and the payback periods are longer than the ‘quick-fix’ and ‘modest’ levels.

The report suggests that governments can provide financial incentives, such as grants, rebates, loans, or tax credits, to encourage households to undertake ‘climate-ready’ renovations. Governments can also set minimum energy performance standards for existing homes, especially for rental properties, social and affordable housing, and low-income households. These policies can help remove barriers to uptake and ensure that all Australians can enjoy the benefits of climate-ready homes.

Australia has been a global leader in rooftop solar, thanks to effective and supportive government policy. Australia now has an opportunity to support household upgrades to be ‘climate-ready’ and prepare occupants for more frequent extreme temperatures. Starting a renovation wave now is the opportunity for governments to deliver on their social, economic, and environmental commitments all at once.

If you want to learn more about the Renovation Pathways report and how you can make your home more climate-ready, you can visit the CSIRO website, or view the full report Climateworks Centre Report HERE.

We can help you create a comfortable, sustainable, and cost-effective home for you and your family.