Energy savings for Aboriginal communities

Horizon Power is part way through the implementation of an energy-efficiency housing refit project, known as the ‘Energy Efficiency Program’, in five Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. The project aims to assist customers to more easily afford their power use and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Approximately 100 homes across five Aboriginal communities will benefit from the program, with a possible further 300 homes in 11 communities participating in the future.

“The program aims to help customers more easily afford their power use and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through reduced energy consumption,” project manager Lisa Taylor said.

“Energy efficiency solutions such as roof insulation, solar hot systems, low flow water devices, shading, energy- efficient appliances and education on energy efficiency will be provided to the communities,” she said.

Western Australia’s Office of Energy is funding the refits that will be co-ordinated by Horizon Power.

The project builds on the work Horizon Power carried out last year, auditing the electricity use in 440 dwellings in remote and town-based Aboriginal communities under the Home Energy Efficiency and Engagement Refit program. The work involved engaging with each resident to consider appliance use and their requirements for high-energy use items like heating and cooling, refrigeration, hot water and washing clothes.

Horizon Power’s Fleur Crowe, who conducted the audits, said the audits and recommendations were comprehensive.

“The audit included a physical inspection of housing orientation, measurements of existing roof and wall insulation, reviewing solar hot water storage capacity against occupancy rates, checking individual appliances wattage, length of use and star ratings,” Ms Taylor said.

“Horizon Power found that the biggest savings in energy use in these communities would be achieved through structural changes to housing, combined with ongoing behavioural change education,” she said.

“The expected energy efficiency savings from this project were forecast to be in the order of 20 per cent.”

Structural changes included replacing undersized solar hot water systems, replacing damaged or installing roof insulation and providing shade cloth or flyscreens.

On completion of the audits, Horizon Power compiled a comprehensive report with recommendations of cost-effective upgrades that would improve the energy-efficiency of each house.