The Latrobe Valley Home Energy Upgrade program is a Victorian Government solar and energy efficiency initiative. The program is delivering, at no cost to households, solar installations and energy efficiency upgrades to up to 1,000 vulnerable households in the Latrobe City, Wellington & Baw Baw local government areas to help them save money on energy bills.
The Victorian Government recognises that supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency can provide new jobs and address living costs in the Latrobe Valley.
There are significant bill reductions to be gained through installing energy efficient appliances and solar panels and the uptake of Solar PV will help transform the Victorian energy sector to one that is renewable, affordable and reliable.
This program aims to support local jobs in the sustainable energy industry and to help vulnerable households save money on their energy bills while contributing to greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
Access to suitable advice and guidance, as well as upfront costs, are all barriers for vulnerable households to installing energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades. This program can address these issues and really make a difference.
What kind of energy upgrades will be provided?
A selection of solar and energy efficiency upgrade packages are being supplied. The most appropriate package for any given household will depend on the individual household’s condition and circumstances.
The packages will:
- replace older, less efficient fixed appliances (space heating/cooling and water heating)
- improve the energy performance of the building (such as draught proofing)
- install solar PV systems or solar/heat pump water heaters to replace energy from the grid.
The final packages are likely to consist of one or more of the following:
- 2kW solar PV system
- high efficiency space heater
- heat pump water heater
- room reverse cycle air conditioning/heating
- efficient central gas heating
- efficient gas water heating
- draught proofing & window covers
- lighting replacement
- shower head replacement
- wall cavity seals
- efficient room gas heating
- ceiling insulation
Who will pay for the upgrades?
Each low-income household will be able to receive up to $4,500 worth of energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements through the program. Upgrade packages will be chosen to help households to get the best financial return from the upgrade. In some instances, householders who receive Solar PV systems may be subject to a reconfiguration fee through their energy retailer/distributor.
Who is running the program?
The program is being run by the Latrobe Valley Authority and Sustainability Victoria.
How will the energy assessments be undertaken?
Households will receive an initial energy assessment undertaken by a qualified program energy assessor. The officer will walk through the home with the householder to determine its current energy performance and recommend suitable upgrades.
A more detailed assessment could be provided as an optional extra within some upgrade packages, which may include guidance on using the Victorian Government Energy Compare website, to search for the best retail energy deal for your household.
Sustainability Victoria has previously worked with experienced third parties to perform household visits and conduct energy assessments. The Latrobe Valley Home Energy Upgrade Program will have a quality assurance process for service providers to ensure a safe service with a high standard of workmanship.
Information for registered households
How is the program progressing?
Hill’s Energy Solutions is the program’s delivery partner, following a competitive tender process, they were selected as the most suitable candidate to deliver the home energy assessments and upgrades. Program delivery began in July 2018 and Hills Energy Solutions are now working their way through the list of applicants.
What are the eligibility requirements?
This program is offered to low-income and vulnerable households in Baw Baw, Latrobe City and Wellington Shires. Eligibility is determined by meeting one or more of the following criteria:
- low income, as determined by holding a current Healthcare Concession, Pensioner Concession or Veteran Affairs Gold card
- participation in an energy or water retailer hardship program; or
- tenants living in Community Housing.
Households that are owner-occupied or tenanted through private rental arrangements or community housing are eligible. Public housing tenants are not eligible to participate.
Participants must be eligible at the time of the first home visit.
Do you need evidence of my eligibility?
Hill’s Energy Solutions will check your eligibility when they call you. They will also need to sight your concession card (if applicable) when they visit. For those on energy or water hardship schemes or in Community Housing, we will already have proof of your eligibility from your retailer/Community Housing agency.
Due to the limited number of upgrades available, eligibility alone does not guarantee you a place in the program.
What are my options if I am not eligible?
There are other programs operating in the Latrobe Valley that you may be able to take part in. There is a Solar Bulk Buy program run by Community Power Hubs, or you can get in touch with the Gippsland Community Power Hub directly for more information about their programs.
Alternatively additional home energy efficiency improvement support and savings can also be found at Victorian Energy Saver and there are solar rebates available via the Victorian Government’s Solar Victoria.
I am going away for an extended period and am worried I’ll miss my chance on the program. Who can I contact about this?
Please contact Sustainability Victoria on (03) 8626 8858 and let them know your name and address, when you will be away and your expected return date.
I have recently sold my house, does my registration transfer to the new homeowner?
No, the registration is for the householder and not the property. If you are moving to a new property within Baw Baw, Latrobe City and Wellington then you should be able to transfer your registration to your new property.
I have recently sold my house and am moving to a new house, am I still able to participate?
If your new property is within the local government areas of Baw Baw, Latrobe City and Wellington then you should be able to transfer your registration. Please contact Sustainability Victoria on (03) 8626 8858 and let them know when you are moving, where you are moving from and your new address.
What happens after my eligibility is confirmed?
Hill’s Energy Solutions will undertake an energy assessment of your home to determine which upgrades are most suitable for you. They will then seek your approval before undertaking the upgrades at a time agreed with you. For rental properties, the landlords consent will be required to commence upgrades.
What is a home energy assessment?
An Energy Liaison Officer working for Hill’s Energy Solutions will visit your home to help assess how you can save money and make your home more comfortable. They will do this by looking at the energy performance of your home – this means how energy efficient the building itself is – whether it has draughts, is it insulated and what appliances you have. They will also talk with you about how you use electricity and gas in your home. Some of the assessment will take place as a conversation and some by walking through your home to observe appliances, windows, walls etc. The outcome of the energy assessment will help determine recommended upgrades.
Do I get to choose what upgrades I get?
The Energy Liaison Officer will make a recommendation based on the outcome of the home energy assessment. This will need to be approved by the householder and if a tenant, by the landlord too.
What if I’ve already got solar?
If you already have solar PV in place, the program will not fund additional panels. However, you may be eligible for packages that deliver more efficient water heaters, fixed appliances and better building performance, which will help you to realise additional energy savings and get more value from your existing solar PV system.
Information for businesses, trades, services and community organisations
Will the program cover the installation of insulation?
The program has been developed to potentially include upgrade packages that have an insulation component. The Victorian Government is consulting with businesses, unions and other key groups to ensure that if insulation is included, appropriate measures are taken to ensure the safety of installers and the community.
How will you ensure the safety and quality of the work carried out as part of the program?
The Latrobe Valley Home Energy Upgrade Program will have a quality assurance process for service providers to ensure that householders receive a safe service with a high standard of workmanship. Service providers will be required to hold membership of relevant professional associations.
The Victorian Government is consulting with businesses and unions with experience in energy efficiency and renewable energy installations, to ensure that program personnel are suitably trained and certified.
Sustainability Victoria and Latrobe Valley Authority is engaging with the relevant agencies to identify training pathways that align with the skills needed to roll out the program. Priority will be given to employment and upskilling opportunities for local workers.
Is any other assistance available to help me reduce my energy bills?
Switch to a cheaper deal
If you haven’t reviewed your energy bill in a long time, there’s a good chance you could save up to 40% off your current electricity and gas tariffs. Grab your bill and visit compare.switchon.vic.gov.au to look for a better deal.
Discounted and free products
The Victorian Government’s Energy Saver Incentive offers discounts and financial incentives on selected energy–saving products and appliances. Click here to find a provider.
Have your home assessed by an energy expert
Get your home assessed to find out its star rating – which shows how much your energy costs are, and its performance in hot weather. The Victorian Government supported Residential Efficiency Scorecard provides tailored recommendations and options for action. Click here to find out more.