NSW gov launches plan to reduce energy bills

An online calculator will also help households determine how much a product costs to run before they purchase it

The NSW government has launched a new energy efficiency plan to reduce the cost of living for households and businesses.

“Increased energy efficiency is the cheapest way to reduce bills and our demand on the grid, which will result in more money for households and small business,” Robyn Parker, NSW Environment Minister, said.

“By investing in energy efficiency projects we can save the equivalent energy of that generated by building a brand new power station – only energy efficiency is cleaner and more affordable.

“This equates to powering Westmead Hospital – the largest government building energy user – for more than 330 years.”

Ms Parker said the government would help to drive energy efficiency at government sites, such as hospitals, schools and emergency service centres, over the next four years. The government is hoping to save around $27 million.

“Our research found that energy efficiency could cost effectively avoid 28% of NSW’s energy use,” Ms Parker said. “Assessment of more than 160,000 low-income households and 17,000 small to medium businesses found $5.2 billion could be saved annually.

“We want to remove barriers for households and business that prevent cost effective savings due to lack of information, skills, time or a ‘hassle factor’. This plan identifies the way the NSW government will provide effective and tailored advice, coupled with financial incentives to encourage more energy efficient decision making.”

As part of the plan, the government is offering incentives to energy retailers, tradespeople and appliance retailers to develop more energy efficient products and services.

The NSW government said supporting the development of these types of products will make it easier for NSW households and businesses to save money on bills.

An online calculator will also help households determine how much a product costs to run before they purchase it.

The plan includes 30 actions across five main themes, including:

• strengthening the energy efficiency market
• energy efficient homes
• energy efficient businesses
• energy efficient government
• statewide delivery

The plan will help the NSW government achieve its NSW 2021 plan. Environmental initiatives of the plan include realising annual energy savings of 16,000 gigawatthours by 2020; supporting 220,000 low income households to reduce energy use by up to 20% by 2014; and delivering building retrofit programs so 50% of NSW commercial floor space achieves a 4 star NABERS energy and water rating by 2020.

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has welcomed the plan.

“We are particularly pleased with the suite of policies and programs that prioritise green leases, provide access to funding or finance mechanisms for building upgrades, and commit to NABERS Energy ratings for commercial buildings,” Katy Dean, the GBCA’s advocacy manager, said.

“We also welcome the establishment of a team of energy efficiency specialists to help key agencies identify and implement energy efficiency projects.

“We encourage the swift implementation of this program across the whole of the NSW government, which would match the commitment made by the Victorian government’s Greener Government Buildings program that is set to save $2 billion over 20 years.”