Advocate demands interest-free loans to help households switch to renewable energy

man switching to renewable energy

Could switching to renewable power sources such as solar be the answer to your rising power bills? The Climate Council believes so. 

Power bills across Australia are set to jump by as much as 25 per cent in coming months after the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) released its draft Default Market Offer (DMO) yesterday. 

The new offer reflects rising inflation and network generation costs, and is sure to make many question whether or not they’re getting the best deal from their energy provider. 

A perfect time, says the Climate Council, to consider fully electrifying your home and switching to solar power generation. 

“Australia’s cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, with energy companies passing on price hikes to consumers even as they rake in massive profits,” says Nathan Hart, energy transformation campaigner for the Climate Council. 

“Ending our dependence on expensive, price-volatile fossil fuels should be a top priority for our leaders. Coal, oil and gas will always be susceptible to wild price spikes because the price households pay is linked to the international market. 

“Foreign wars shouldn’t dictate the price Australian households pay to heat and cool their home. We can and should take control of our own power.”   

The Climate Council is calling on the federal and state governments to assist Australians with interest-free loans to help them switch to solar, replace gas appliances with electric ones and generally improve the energy efficiency of their home. 

The council found in its Switch and Save report that by electrifying all appliances in the home and installing solar power generation can deliver savings of between $500 and $1900 per year and can recoup the costs of the switch in as little as six years. 

“There are about eight million homes in Australia that were built prior to minimum energy efficiency standards,” Mr Hart says. 

“With a little help, every one of these could be upgraded to deliver cheaper power bills.” 

But the plan also has its detractors. 

Steve Davies, chief executive of the Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA), told The Australian that the cost of fully electrifying homes across the country was “frequently downplayed” and massively underestimated. 

He says the cost of electrifying the approximately 5.1 million households currently connected to gas lines could potentially exceed $66 billion. 

“Every change we make to decarbonise our country will come at a cost,” he says. 

“Each industry, including the gas infrastructure sector, has a responsibility to decarbonise and do so in a way that’s economical for households and businesses during this cost-of-living crisis.” 

Independent Senator David Pocock directly challenged the APGA numbers in a statement, calling its message an “attempt to delay the electrification of Australian homes” and said electrifying the nation’s homes would cost only around $12 billion. 

“A peak body representing the fossil fuel industry using made-up numbers for a baseless scare campaign is as laughable as it is unsurprising,” Senator Pocock said. 

“Australian rooftop solar is a global success story thanks to support from the Howard government and every government since, and we have an opportunity to do the same with household electrification.” 

Do you have gas appliances in your home? Have you estimated the costs of going electric? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Also read: How electrifying your life could save you thousands

Written by Brad Lockyer

Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.

5 Comments

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  1. Have fairly new instant gas hot water and an old gas space heater. I also have a slow combustion fireplace so the space heater is seldom used.

    We have a granny type flat (no granny but a mature man lives there), it has instant gas heating and reverse cycle air conditioning.

    The granny flat has an EER of 5+ (double glazing, full insulation, a verandah on the northern side and shade from trees on the western side. Gas consumption is also relatively low and I suspect that there is not much that we can do to reduce our demand for either electricity or gas.

    The main house has an unknown energy rating but is aligned east west, has full insulation and shade and verandah over the western windows.

    I have considered installing a battery (there is a 5KW system on the roof) but under present conditions the savings would not meet the costs of the installation. As far as daily consumption is concerned we are a three person household but our consumption is consistently significantly below a single person for our suburb.

  2. Firstly the article introduction says; “Switching to renewable energy could save you thousands, say the experts, but it could also cost you thousands. We outline the savings and the estimated outlay.” I don’t believe that the article addresses and hardly touches on these questions.

    I was expecting some guidance on the cost/benefits or otherwise of installing solar or batteries in different circumstances but this wasn’t provided.

    I am not a gas consumer nor am I anti-climate change but I really question some of the information we are being fed.

    Firstly, the efficiency of converting gas to electricity is around 50 per cent so for each kWh of electricity twice as much gas equivalent is needed. So how can it be cheaper to convert to electric heating when it uses twice as much gas to produce the electricity? Similarly, whether gas is burnt at a generator or a domestic gas stove the same greenhouse gases are released but twice as much per kWh at the generator than the gas stove or heater because of the 50% efficiency. So unless users are being really ripped-off by the gas industry (I’m sure such nice people wouuldnt do that), how is it cheaper to convert to electricity? Furthermore, the existing gas network infrastructure which is already there is much cheaper and reliable to maintain than poles and wires. Until at least 50% of our electricity is produced from renewable sources I cannot see how the above situation will change?

    Another question; we are frequently told that there is excess rooftop solar power during the day and this is why feed in tariffs are so low. If this is really the case then why don’t we have off peak water and storage heating during the day to use this cheap excess electricity instead of at night when fossil fuels are essential?

    Until some of these simple issues are explained, the public’s scepticism about these efficiency and climate claims will be justified.

  3. The energy topic has been filling the news. My wife (architect) investigated how to reduce household energy demands. I’ve been looking at efficiencies related to power creation, transport and use. Perhaps this might help inform people’s decisions:

    The most significant factors in reducing household energy consumption is a combination of effective ceiling insulation, roofing color, and ceiling space ventilation. In a high sunshine and high temperature environment 1. Have a white roof, it massively reduces heat entering the ceiling space. 2. Use lots of ceiling insulation, so the heat (jn winter) or cold (in summer) you pay to make does not leak into the ceiling. 3. Be sure your ceiling lights are completely sealed, so they do not provide a pathway for the heat or cold you make to leak into the ceiling space. 4. Install solar powered ceiling space ventilation at the roof crest, in combination with under eve vent holes. So there is a constant flow of air to ventilate the ceiling space.

    Next comes keeping your electrical appliances relatively new. All types of appliances are getting smarter and more efficient. This applies to fridges, air-conds, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, heaters, stoves, solar panels, batteries etc. Your old faithfuls are robbing you via their inefficient energy use. Update electric consumption appliances regularly, certainly within five years, as the advances in energy efficiency can be considerable. Consider installing a smart electrical monitoring system to help identify where your money is going via which appliances.

    If you are thinking solar, remember that most electrical appliances work on a relatively low voltage DC current. Converting the 32v or 48v DC electricity made by your solar panels to 240v AC to send to your fridge or air-cond (for example) where there is yet another energy consuming transformer to convert the power back to 24v DC is not smart. There are air-cond units (eg: developed for remote communications tower equipment) which will run directly off solar panels without all the transformers etc. Similarly, fridges and freezers (eg developed for off grid homes and marine DC power systems) which can work directly off solar. As can your swimming pool pump and other heavy electricity consumers. LED lights have inefficient and heat producing transformers to convert 240AC to (mostly) 12V DC. Find LED lights where you can remove the transformer and run directly from solar or battery DC current. Yachts and caravans have been doing it for years. Many LEDs could be quite suitable for DC household use.

    Half the cost of delivering mains electricity to your house is created by constructing and maintaining sub-stations, local transformers and transmission lines. Especially those big high voltage lines criss-crossing rural areas to link dispersed power creating systems; solar farms, hydro, coal, wind or gas generating plants. The cost of electricity at your house could be halved if it was efficiently made on-site. Solar panels may not be as efficient as a hydro, gas or coal fired power station, but looking into the future, the government could put our tax money into household and business premise solar panels and efficient batteries rather than give it to power line, wind and solar farm construction and operating companies. So the need to forever pay for even more of those expensive interstate grid networks, linking distant solar or wind farms, is reduced or eliminated.

  4. Would like to get a battery. However prices need to half before I would consider.
    Interest free loan would not attract me as still paying too much.
    I have solar .

  5. At present, only “homeowners” can benefit from converting to solar energy. Renters are not permitted to install solar panels and/or batteries in the homes they rent, even at their own expense.

    This needs to change and sooner rather than later. It is quite a feasible concept for governments, state and/or federal, to legislate to make this an option for renters as well as homeowners. Come on, Labour, are you really the supporters of the masses who elected you or not?

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