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Home Energy Upgrade Program – frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions

The Latrobe Valley Home Energy Upgrade program is a Victorian Government solar and energy efficiency initiative. The program will deliver, at no cost to households, solar installations and energy efficiency upgrades to up to 1,000 vulnerable households in the Latrobe City, Wellington & Baw Baw local government areas to help them save money on energy bills. 

The Victorian Government recognises that supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency can provide new jobs and address living costs in the Latrobe Valley.

There are significant bill reductions to be gained through installing solar panels and the uptake of Solar PV will help transform the Victorian energy sector to one that is renewable, affordable and reliable.

This program aims to support local jobs in the sustainable energy industry and to help vulnerable households save money on their energy bills while contributing to greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

Access to suitable advice and guidance, as well as upfront costs, are all barriers for vulnerable households to installing solar PV and other energy upgrades. This program can address these issues and really make a difference.

General information

Who is eligible to apply for the program?

Eligible households are those that are:

  • Low-income – based on their eligibility for Health Care Cards, Pensioner Concessions or a Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card OR households in energy or water retailer hardship programs, and
  • Owner-occupied or tenanted through private rental arrangements or community housing.

Public Housing tenants are not eligible to participate in this program as the Victorian Government will upgrade more than 200 public housing properties later this year.

What kind of energy upgrades will be provided?

A selection of solar and energy efficiency upgrade packages will be offered. The most appropriate package for any given household will depend on the individual household’s condition and circumstances. The packages will:

  • Replace older, less efficient fixed appliances (space heating/cooling and water heating)
  • Improve the energy performance of the building (such as draught proofing) and/or
  • Install solar PV systems or solar/heat pump water heaters to replace energy from the grid.

The final packages are still in development but are likely to consist of:

  • 2 kW solar PV system OR high efficiency space heater OR heat pump water heater

AND one or more of the following

  • Draught proofing & window covers
  • Lighting replacement
  • Efficient gas water heating
  • Shower head replacement
  • Efficient central gas heating
  • Wall cavity seals
  • Efficient room gas heating
  • Room reverse cycle air conditioning/heating

What if I’ve already got solar?

If you already have solar PV in place, the program will not fund additional panels. However, you may be eligible for packages that deliver more efficient water heaters, fixed appliances and better building performance, which will help you to realise additional energy savings and get more value from your existing solar PV system. 

Who will pay for the upgrades?

Each low-income household will be able to receive up to $4,500 worth of energy efficiency improvements, solar panels and solar water heaters through the program.

Upgrade packages will be chosen to help households to get the best financial return on the upgrade. For example, depending on the household’s circumstances, an upgrade package may include a 2 kW solar PV system, draft proofing, window covering, lighting upgrade and shower rose replacement which may save $225 per quarter.

Who is running the program?

The program is being run by the Latrobe Valley Authority (LVA) with support from Sustainability Victoria (SV), a statutory authority set up to help Victorians be more sustainable in their everyday life, homes, jobs and communities.  

How will the energy assessments be undertaken?

Households will receive an initial energy assessment undertaken by a qualified program energy assessor. The officer will walk through the home with the householder to determine its current energy performance and recommend suitable upgrades.

A more detailed assessment could be provided as an optional extra within some upgrade packages, which may include guidance on using the Victorian Government Energy Compare website, to search for the best retail energy deal for your household.

Sustainability Victoria has previously worked with experienced third parties to perform household visits and conduct energy assessments. The Latrobe Valley Home Energy Upgrade Program will have a quality assurance process for service providers to ensure a safe service with a high standard of workmanship.

Interested?

HOME OWNERS

REGISTER YOUR INTEREST

Information for registered households

How is the program progressing?

Hill’s Energy Solutions were recruited last year to be the program’s delivery partner. Following a competitive tender process, they were selected as the most suitable candidate to deliver the home energy assessments and upgrades. Since then they have conducted rigorous staff training and ensured that all the essential safety checks are in place. Hill’s Energy Solutions will begin to call participants from mid-2018.

What are the eligibility requirements?

This program is offered to low-income and vulnerable households in Baw Baw, Latrobe City and Wellington Shires. Eligibility is determined by meeting one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Low income, as determined by holding a current Healthcare Concession, Pensioner Concession or Veteran Affairs Gold card;
  2. Participation in an energy or water retailer hardship program; or
  3. Tenants living in Community Housing.

Households that are owner-occupied or tenanted through private rental arrangements or community housing are eligible. Public housing tenants are not eligible to participate.

Participants must be eligible at the time of the first home visit.

Do you need evidence of my eligibility?

Hill’s Energy Solutions will check your eligibility when they call you. They will also need to sight your concession card (if applicable) when they visit. For those on energy or water hardship schemes or in Community Housing, we will already have proof of your eligibility from your retailer/Community Housing agency.

If I meet the eligibility requirements, am I guaranteed a place on the program?

Due to the limited number of upgrades available, eligibility alone does not guarantee you a place in the program. Once the program is fully subscribed by eligible applicants, any further applicants will be placed on a waitlist.

What are my options if I am not eligible?

There are other programs operating in the Latrobe Valley that you may be able to take part in. There is a Solar Bulk Buy program run by Community Power Hubs: http://www.gippybulkbuy.com.au/, or you can get in touch with the Gippsland Community Power Hub directly for more information about their programs: http://www.communitypowerhub.com.au/latrobevalley/

I am going away for an extended period and am worried I’ll miss my chance on the program. Who can I contact about this?

Please contact the Latrobe Valley Authority on 1800 136 762 or visit 131 Princes Drive, Morwell and let them know your name and address, when you will be away and your expected return date.

I have recently sold my house. Does my registration transfer to the new homeowner?

No, the registration is for the householder and not the property. If you are moving to a new property within Baw Baw, Latrobe City and Wellington then you should be able to transfer your registration to your new property.

I have recently sold my house and am moving to a new house? Am I still able to participate?

If your new property is within the local government areas of Baw Baw, Latrobe City and Wellington then you should be able to transfer your registration. Please call the Latrobe Valley Authority on 1800 136 762 or visit 131 Princes Drive, Morwell and let them know when you are moving, where you are moving from and your new address. We can then update your details.

What happens after my eligibility is confirmed?

Hill’s Energy Solutions will undertake an energy assessment of your home to determine which upgrades are most suitable for you. Hill’s will then seek your approval before undertaking the upgrades at a time agreed with you. For rental properties, the landlords consent will be required to commence upgrades.

What is a home energy assessment?

An Energy Liaison Officer working for Hill’s Energy Solutions will visit your home to help assess how you can save money and make your home more comfortable. They will do this by looking at the energy performance of your home; – this means how energy efficient the building itself is – whether it has draughts, is it insulated and what appliances you have. They will also talk with you about how you use electricity and gas in your home. Some of the assessment will take place as a conversation and some by walking through your home to observe appliances, windows, walls etc. The outcome of the energy assessment will help decide which upgrades to recommend to you.

Do I get to choose what upgrades I get?

The Energy Liaison Officer will make a recommendation based on the outcome of the home energy assessment. This will need to be approved by the householder and if a tenant, by the landlord too.

Information for businesses, trades, services and community organisations

Will training be available as part of this program?

The Victorian Government will seek interest from suppliers in the Latrobe Valley region to offer services associated with the program. It is hoped that the Home Energy Upgrade Program will build capacity and growth in sustainable energy industries in the Latrobe region.

Sustainability Victoria will work with the Latrobe Valley Authority to identify opportunities to train the local workforce to help deliver the program to a professional standard.

Will the program cover the installation of insulation?

The program has been developed to potentially include upgrade packages that have an insulation component. The Victorian Government is consulting with businesses, unions and other key groups to ensure that, if insulation is included, appropriate measures are taken to ensure the safety of installers and the community.

How will you ensure the safety and quality of the work carried out as part of the program?

The Latrobe Valley Home Energy Upgrade program will have a quality assurance process for service providers to ensure that householders receive a safe service with a high standard of workmanship. Service providers will be required to hold membership of relevant professional associations.

The Victorian Government is consulting with businesses and unions with experience in energy efficiency and renewable energy installations, to ensure that program personnel are suitably trained and certified.

Sustainability Victoria and Latrobe Valley Authority is engaging with the relevant agencies to identify training pathways that align with the skills needed to roll out the program. Priority will be given to employment and upskilling opportunities for local workers.

How can I express interest in participating in the program?

Interested households, local businesses and community organisations can register their interest in the program below. Some registrants may be contacted to discuss their submission and that discussion will help shape the process.

Is any other assistance available to help me reduce my energy bills?

Switch to a cheaper deal

If you haven’t reviewed your energy bill in a long time, there’s a good chance you could save up to 40% off your current electricity and gas tariffs. Grab your bill and visit compare.switchon.vic.gov.au to look for a better deal.

Discounted and free products

The Victorian Government’s Energy Saver Incentive offers discounts and financial incentives on selected energy–saving products and appliances. Visit victorianenergysaver.vic.gov.au/more-ways-to-save/energy-saver-incentive to find a provider.

The best ways to save power

Visit Sustainability Victoria website to find out how you can reduce your bills and make your home more comfortable. Visit the households page at sustainability.vic.gov.au

Have your home assessed by an energy expert

Get your home assessed to find out its star rating – which shows how much your energy costs are, and its performance in hot weather. The Victorian Government supported Residential Efficiency Scorecard provides tailored recommendations and options for action. Find out more at victorianenergysaver.vic.gov.au/residential-efficiency-scorecard