Net-zero housing design is being tested in Perth with an experiment that investigates affordable ways to build and live in a home.
With partners Mirvac and Keystart, Synergy is monitoring the lifestyle and energy and water use of a family in a three-by-two double-storey property valued at $415,000 in Bennett Springs.
The purpose-built home is under a rent-to-buy arrangement and has been fitted with a five-kilowatt solar system and 8kWh battery that is expected to save a family with high daytime electricity consumption north of $1513 annually.
A family typically away from the home during the day is anticipated to save roughly $1085 with Synergy’s technology, while Mirvac’s design principles are also predicted to reduce energy bill stress.
Among the eco-friendly features of the northern suburbs home is construction to an 8.4-star NatHERS energy rating, solar-passive design principles and energy-efficient appliances.
Synergy General Manager of Customer Experience Colin Smith said fingers were crossed that this experiment would address the challenges of housing affordability in Western Australia by leveraging current and emerging energy technology.
“The experiment is set to provide crucial learnings for future net-zero housing design concepts, and how customers can use solar and emerging energy technology to their own benefit, as well as to help contribute to a cleaner energy supply chain,” he said.
“Western Australia has a strong and evolving relationship with solar power, and its uptake is rapidly increasing. In addition to large-scale solar farms coming online, the increasing adoption of rooftop solar PV by Western Australian homes and businesses is significant. Last year saw a record capacity of 300 megawatts (MW) of small-scale solar added to the electricity network – almost equivalent to the state’s largest coal-fired generator, the 340MW Collie Power Station.”
Solar is certainly in high demand in WA, with almost 350,000 households currently boasting rooftop solar PV in the South West Interconnected System alone.
According to Mr Smith, this figure is rising and should mean one in two WA homes have panels by 2030 if uptake continues at the current rate.
Other Synergy initiatives working to modernise WA electricity are Virtual Power Plants or large-scale batteries at schools, and a new tariff designed to encourage smarter consumption schedules.
These projects fit into the State Government’s Energy Transformation Strategy and Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Roadmap, which sees Synergy investigating how to make the most out of solar investments and explore new ways to produce, consume and manage energy.
For homeowners currently looking at ways to minimise energy use in their own properties, Mr Smith had a couple of hot tips.
“Electrical appliances have significantly increased in efficiency in recent years and, in many cases, can be more affordable to run than gas,” he said.
“Be guided by the official energy star rating label when purchasing new household items. For customers with solar, small changes to when energy is used can make a noticeable difference.
“As most people are not home in the middle of the day when the sun is shining brightest, and there is less demand for the grid’s energy, this becomes an ideal time to schedule high energy-use activities, such as programming your dishwasher, washing machine or pool pumps to run during the day.”
For more information about saving energy in the home, visit www.synergy.net.au/Your-home/Energy-tips/Energy-saving-tips.