Our Healthy Homes program improved temperatures and reduced energy bills during winter for vulnerable Victorians.
One thousand Victorian homes have received free energy upgrades thanks to the Healthy Homes program.
Targeting homes in Melbourne’s western suburbs and the Goulburn Valley, the State Government initiative set out to both improve indoor temperatures and reduce energy bills during winter for Victorians who live with complex healthcare needs and have low incomes.
Victoria has a temperate climate, but the combination of cold winters and thermally inefficient housing stock creates a serious population health risk.
Over a 4 year period, the Healthy Homes program rolled out upgrades like draught proofing, ceiling or sub-floor insulation, high-efficiency heating and cooling appliances and window coverings.
More than simply a delivery program, it was designed as a randomised controlled trial to measure and monetise health benefits of improved warmth and energy efficiency.
Research results showed that the upgrades increased indoor temperatures over winter, reducing time spent exposed to cold by 43 minutes a day.
There was also an average cost saving of $972 over winter, mainly due to health benefits. For every $1 saved in energy costs, more than $10 was saved in healthcare costs.
Sustainability Victoria’s Toby Cumming said the team had uncovered some incredible stories during the roll-out of the program.
"For one participant, we replaced two very inefficient electric heat banks with a single split system. Her energy use is now a quarter of what it was the previous winter, dropping from 42kWh a day to 11kWh a day."
Toby Cumming, Team Leader Evaluation and Research, Sustainability Victoria
As a result of the upgrades, gas use was reduced by an average of 7.1kWh a day, condensation decreased, and the likelihood of perceived warmth was doubled.
Healthy Homes team member Lucy Allinson said it was a gratifying program to be part of.
“To be able to actually help give people a chance to live a more comfortable and better life for me is the greatest reward of this program,” Lucy said.
Presented by:Matt Genever, Interim CEO at Sustainability Victoria
Heather, Healthy Homes participant
We are with Heather out in Melton celebrating the fantastic Healthy homes program. A thousand Victorian families right now are benefiting from lower health care costs and lower energy costs and they're living in warmer, more comfortable homes as a result of this fantastic program. Heather's had a split system installed in her house so that she can be warm throughout the winter and cool throughout summer. That split system has replaced some older, electric heaters that were really, really inefficient and Heather really struggled to get them up to temperature.
The heat banks were very expensive and with the power going up, I used to dread getting each bill because I'd know it would be very high over the winter. I couldn't open the doors, I had to keep the doors all shut to keep the heat in. With the costs rising, it would have been too expensive for me to stay here. Healthy Homes have come and they've put in a new split system and it made a difference. I was able to say in my home here, have my friends and the neighbourhood, and be able to enjoy being lovely and warm.
We set out to look at the energy efficiency of homes, but also to see what the impact on health care costs were. It's about a $900 a year saving for Victorians that have complex health care needs as a result of the energy upgrade to their homes. Cold houses through winter, they're not great for your health. We knew that and we set out to prove it and that's exactly what Healthy Homes has done.
Heather: It's changed my life. It means I can still stay in this house. I can afford to live here and pay my bills and I very rarely see the doctor, only for the flu shot. And I've got a better quality of life, it's really good. My upgrade has just really made my life much more comfortable and pleasant for me.
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