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Energy bills: How 3.5 million Aussies can save $1,600 per year

Stephanie Munzone-Loxton is building a sustainable duplex and hopes it will save her family in the long term.

Around 3.5 million Aussies are planning on making renovations or improvements to their homes in the next six months, and there’s one thing they could do to save thousands in the long term.

Aussies can save up to $1,600 per year on their energy bills by factoring in energy efficiency when renovating or improving their home, according to research from KPMG and the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

By switching your home to be all electric you could save up to $550 per year. By installing efficient water fixtures you could save $463 on your water bills. And by installing solar panels you could save at least $800 on energy bills per annum.

Image of solar panels on house and Stephanie Munzone-Loxton standing outside home. Energy saving concept.
Stephanie Munzone-Loxton is currently building a sustainable duplex in Sydney and hopes it will lower her family's energy bills. (Source: Supplied)

Do you have a story to share? Contact tamika.seeto@yahooinc.com

Stephanie Munzone-Loxton is currently working with an architect to build a sustainable duplex where her family and her mother will live.

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The Sydney teacher first learnt about building sustainably when researching for a school project for her students. Now, she says she’s keen to make her home more sustainable for her son.

“It’s not only improving the state of the planet, but also beneficial to our health because, by building sustainably, you can reduce a lot of the chemicals and emissions that normally enter a home,” Munzone-Loxton told Yahoo Finance.

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Some of the things she will be including in her new home include high-performance insulation, double-glazed windows, solar panels, a water tank and a heat-recovery ventilation system.

The duplex is set to cost $1.2 million to build and Munzone-Loxton said including sustainable improvements meant the cost would be more expensive initially.

“But having high-performance insulated windows and doors is going to mean that the air inside the house isn’t constantly flowing outside and our house is going to stay at a comfortable temperature at all times. So, we’re not going to be using air-conditioning,” Munzone-Loxton said.

“So, I think all [of the sustainable improvements] combined are going to make up for the increased cost initially.”

More Aussies looking to build sustainably

Sydney-based architect Alexander Symes said he’d noticed an increase in people looking to make their homes more sustainable and energy-efficient in the past four to five years.

But homeowners can often face barriers to making their homes sustainable, with new GBCA and Allianz research finding high costs, complexity and the weight of the task were common deterrents.

Symes said it could be easy to think of sustainable renovations as complex and expensive, but this didn’t have to be the case.

Architect Alexander Symes standing in front of home.
Sydney architect Alexander Symes said sustainable additions didn't need to be complex or costly. (Source: Supplied)

“Shifting to green power is one of the most cost-effective game-changers you can make in terms of environmental efficiency. But there are also other very important things, such as sealing up the house, installing ceiling fans so you don’t have to use air-conditioners as often and installing curtains to reduce heat losses in winter,” Symes told Yahoo Finance.

“In terms of water, there are low-flow taps and then, when you can afford it, put in a rainwater tank and feed that to your landscape.”

To give you an idea of costs, a 6kW solar system can cost between $4,810 and $9,920 to install depending on where you live. The payback period can range from as little as two-and-a-half years to six-and-a-half years, according to comparison site Solar Choice.

Create a game plan

For Aussies on a budget, Symes recommended creating a priority list of what you wanted to do and then actioning it over time as funds became available.

Improvements can range from light retrofits, including sealing up holes in your home and installing heavy curtains, through to deep retrofits, including adding insulation to your home, solar panels and rainwater tanks.

For Aussies feeling overwhelmed, Symes recommended they visit GBCA and Allianz’s Green Specs website and put in their own parameters and what they were looking for.

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