Synergy researchers sustainable living in real-time

Synergy is undertaking a two-year research project called Living Labs to determine if behaviour is the number one influence in living more sustainably.

The research project – in partnership with Josh Byrne & Associates and conducted by Curtin University and CRC for Low Carbon Living – will focus on 10 Perth suburban households that have been challenged to reduce their environmental footprint via solar panels, water tanks, and low energy appliances.

The purpose of the two year study is to determine whether simple lifestyle changes can save money and make homes more comfortable.

The 10 households are a mix of old and new homes, with different occupant profiles. The study has intentionally included a mix of high performance homes and more conventional houses that meet the minimum building code thermal performance requirement. There are also some renovated dwellings.

Monitoring equipment has been installed in each of the houses to record electricity, gas and water usage, internal temperature, as well as rainwater use and solar electricity production for the houses that have rainwater tanks and solar panels on the roof.

Between December 2014 and December 2015, the houses were monitored as the participants got on with their normal lives. At the start of the second year, they were given access to a ‘data dashboard’, which presents information about their house performance on a daily basis. They were also provided with a home efficiency audit at the start of summer and again at the beginning of winter, and given seasonally appropriate tips about energy and water savings in the house and garden.

The participants were also asked to set energy and water savings goals that they felt were achievable based on the guidance that they had received.