Saving Energy and Reducing Bills during COVID-19

As the cold weather starts bearing down, many Hepburn Shire residents are home due to COVID-19, and experiencing higher costs to heat homes and stay well this winter.

This article originally featured in the Wombat Post.

As the cold weather starts bearing down, many Hepburn Shire residents are home due to COVID-19, and experiencing higher costs to heat homes and stay well this winter.

A key issue for maintaining a comfortable and healthy home is the building fabric – i.e how the structure limits the transfer of cold and hot air from inside to out and vice versa. Poorly insulated floors, walls and ceilings mean that many homes leak hot air like a sieve. In fact, on the 10-star scale which is used across Australia to assess thermal performance, Victorian homes average 2-stars. These homes need more gas, wood or other systems to keep them warm, costing more to heat than the energy-efficient alternative.

Poor energy efficiency is not just bad for your bills, but also terrible for the environment. In the Hepburn Shire, emissions from households compromise the second largest emissions component, producing 89,143 tonnes of CO2 each year. Most of these emissions come from electricity, petrol and gas used to power, heat and travel to and from your home. More efficient buildings could reduce up to 50% of the electricity, gas and wood use in our homes as the diagram below shows.

This is why Hepburn Z-NET has coordinated new programs to help households improve their building fabric and lower Hepburn emissions. The Z-NET Hepburn Home Energy Assessments provide a free audit service, funded through the Z-NET Climate Resilience Fund which is a collaborative fund set up to support community behaviour change programs. The key funders for this program are the Creswick Community and District Bank, Hepburn Wind and Hepburn Shire Council. This program has now managed to leverage State Government funding through the Energy Savvy Upgrades to support low-income households to improve their energy efficiency with subsidised upgrades of up to $880 per household. Both programs are delivered by local sustainability group, Transition Creswick.

Gale’s experience with Home Energy Assessments and Energy Savvy Upgrades

Earlier this year, the first energy assessment and upgrade was completed for a Creswick resident, Gale. Through adding insulation, installing solar and implementing an array of drought-proofing actions, her home went from 5.8 stars to 10 according to the Victorian Residential Scorecard Rating (VRES) used to conduct the assessment.

“The house was uncomfortably cold, it made me feel unwell, but I also wanted to reduce my environmental impact ” – Gale

You can read the full case study here.

If you would like to make your home more comfortable and reduce your emissions at the same time, here are some steps you can take today:

  • Register now for the Z-NET Hepburn Home Energy Assessments and Energy Savvy Upgrades. Please register your interest for a free audit and subsidised retrofits by filling out this survey or sending an email to Once the team receives clearance that assessments can commence you will be notified.
  • Get informed about energy efficiency via this webinar series to be held on May 20 and May 27, 2020. Hosted by the Central Victorian Green House Alliance, this webinar covers key actions you can take at home to improve the energy efficiency of your home and stay warm this winter.
  • Register for the upcoming solar and battery webinar series for The Hepburn Solar Bulk-Buy throughout May and June.

Authors: Marie Lakey and Taryn Lane from Hepburn Wind Hepburn Wind is a founding partner of Hepburn Z-NET.