Green Loans Assessment Report

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For a little while the Australian Government was extremely keen on its home efficiency assessment program. This involved sending out hoards of assessors to conduct free reviews of residential houses, looking for opportunities to deliver environmental improvements. Due to fallout from some of the other programs (notably the home insulation program), this  has now been essentially moth-balled. In particular, the interest free green loans have been cancelled, one of the main reasons for having the assessment done.

Still, many months after having an assessment out of curiosity, the report turned up in the the mail this week. I’ve scanned the two pages of the report (click on the images to get a PDF version):

In general, our house is above average on all counts: running costs, greenhouse gases and water usage. The recommendations made were as follows, alongside my comments:

Recommendation My thoughts
When renovating, consider installing an on-demand hot water recirculation system to reuse the cold water in the pipes between the tap and the hot water service. This is probably the best tip. I have vaguely heard of this technology, so now it will go on the list for our upcoming renovation.
Replace your hot water system with a gas-boosted solar model. I had already replaced our ancient hot water system with a 6.9 star gas on-demand system, so this recommendation misses the mark I think. (We also don’t have the available roof space for solar hot water as well as solar power.)
Replace your toilet with a water efficient model (min 4 star) or a composting toilet. Yes, definitely on the list. A pretty obvious recommendation.
Install insulation with a minimum of R2 in external walls if you have, or expect to have, access to the well cavity. One slight problem: our house is double-brick without a cavity. So nowhere to put any extra insulation.
Install under-floor insulation (if access is available) This is an interesting one. I did a lot of research early on to understand the potential benefits of under-floor insulation, and the results were ambiguous. I couldn’t find clear indications of benefits, and I’m concerned that it will cut down on the cooling effect during summer. More research required.
Install photovoltaic panels to generate electricity (min 1KW system capacity) Done! These were installed after the assessment was done.

In summary, the results were somewhat interesting, but hardly earth-shattering. We already know a lot, but even taking that into account, I’m not sure the assessment would really help the average family to make changes. In the absence of a proper cost-benefit analysis, some of the recommendations seem very costly in terms of the benefits they might bring.

I’m hoping that the results of all these assessments are being passed to some Australia-wide research project, as this would probably deliver more benefit than the changes made by individual houses.

4 thoughts on “Green Loans Assessment Report

    biggreencoat said:
    May 29, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    thanks for sharing.
    Our assessment wasn’t particularly helpful. It did recommend we switch to air-conditioning / heat pump for heating, which was great news as I wanted it anyway. I’m also now considering a heat-pump hot water heater as that was recommended also.

      James responded:
      May 29, 2010 at 11:52 pm

      Do look into heat pumps closely. From what I’ve heard, they need to be carefully chosen and planned, otherwise they can be worse than the system they’re replacing!

      (For example, my understanding is that they need to be put outside in a warm location, preferably one that gets sun. Of course, that’s exactly the sort of place that is most valuable, and has many other uses.)

      Heat pumps aren’t of use for us, so I haven’t researched it properly, so don’t take my word as gospel on this.

    Darren (Green Change) said:
    May 29, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    They must be clearing their backlog – mine came this week too.

    There was essentially nothing of interest in it for me. Almost all of the recommendations were either obvious, trivial, or silly. For example it said to install rainwater tanks to cut our water usage – but we’re on tanks not town water to begin with! It also said to install covers or shade on north-facing windows, which they all already have.

    I remember when reading up about the reports, they said it was worth something like $250 value. I’d be ropable if I’d paid $250 for those few bits of paper!

    I only really did it to get access to the Green Loan, and that got canned before my report came. Pity.

    Tony said:
    June 29, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Yes, Thanks for sharing.

    I think you have experienced what I call the “Top Ten” syndrome. The top ten things you can do have already been considered by most people who are concerned. Most people who ask already know the answer.

    A much more sophisticated self help survey would possibly be more effective.

    Now there is an idea.

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