Latrobe Valley Home Energy Upgrade Program

Last updated: 21 July 2021

The Latrobe Valley Home Energy Upgrade Trial Program supported 1000 households to reduce energy costs and/or improve the thermal comfort of their home. The program was available to residents in the Latrobe City, Wellington and Baw Baw council areas.

The program successfully delivered energy efficiency upgrades up to $4500 per household.

With every living situation different, upgrades included but were not limited to:

  • replacing older fixed appliances, such as heating, cooling and water heating
  • improving the performance of the building, such as insulation
  • installing solar PV systems or heat pump water heaters.

This led to 2706 products installed across the 1000 homes, with many homes receiving the benefit of a heating upgrade (split system) and an improvement to the home’s thermal shell (insulation).

Purpose

The program was undertaken to provide practical energy efficiency upgrades to low-income Latrobe Valley residents.

Just over 8 out of 10 homes in Victoria are thermally inefficient, resulting in wasted energy and higher utility bills.

Participants could achieve lower energy bills or an improved thermal comfort through one or more of the following:

  • make appliances more energy efficient
  • make their home easier to keep warm or cool
  • generate electricity on site through solar PV.

The program sought to make a positive impact on the daily lives of participants through energy efficiency upgrades, demonstrating that even low-cost upgrades can have a big impact.

Key findings

An external consultant was engaged to survey participants and collect household energy data where possible. This information was captured and presented in an Evaluation Report available to download below.

Key findings:

  • There were high levels of participant satisfaction, with people reporting increased comfort and well-being.
  • The broad range of offerings made the program complex but allowed more opportunity to meet the needs of participants.
  • On average, there was an 11% reduction in electricity usage.

Considerations:

Not all energy consumption went down:

  • Some residents had inefficient heaters and couldn't afford to heat their home for long. But with the updates, they were able to heat their home for longer, for the same amount of money.
  • Some residents now have access to air-conditioning and cooling, when previously they had gone without.

The condition of homes also determined what upgrades could be installed. To ensure safety of installers or occupants, part of the allocated $4500 needed to be spent on updating switchboards, wiring or gas piping. This took away from available spend on energy efficiency or thermal comfort upgrades. It would be recommended that future programs include a contingency for such safety works.

Evaluation report

Next steps

Learn how to improve energy efficiency at home.

Learnings from the Latrobe Valley Home Upgrade Program are informing Victorian Government initiatives to improve housing energy efficiency across Victoria. For recent announcements on energy efficiency upgrade programs, please visit the Victorian Energy Saver website.