Victoria’s new home gas ban to cut pollution

An analysis conducted by the government of Victoria indicated that the state’s greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by roughly one sixth if Victoria implemented a policy to ban gas connections for new houses beginning in the next year. This is in comparison to the emissions produced by average new dual electric and gas-run dwellings.

Those who contended that emissions would actually rise in the short-term since the state’s electrical sector had a greater emissions intensity than gas faced some criticism after the government stated in July that it would prohibit new residences from connecting to natural gas. This decision was met with some criticism.

On the other hand, according to a study that was provided to Australia by the Department of Energy, Environment, and Climate Action, a new all-electric home would have 16% lower emissions than a new dual gas-electric home, which would result in a savings of 900kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) annually.

Assuming that the power sector continues to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide, the emissions gap would increase further over the course of a decade.

For the period modeled, 2024-2034, new homes that are entirely powered by electricity will have 29% fewer emissions than dual-fuel dwellings of equal size, saving 13.5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

The evaluation was carried out using the brand-new criteria for energy efficiency, which are set to become effective in May of next year. In addition to this, it is presumed that the devices utilized for the heating of the room are multi-split, high-efficiency air conditioning systems.

All-electric homes, according to Victoria’s Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, require less energy to run than their dual-fuel counterparts, which results in owners saving money and reducing emissions.

According to D’Ambrosio, “Modern electric appliances will reduce their emissions while saving them up to $1,000 on their annual energy bills, or up to $2,200 for households that also have solar installed.”

If homes were built to meet the new minimum requirements for construction, which include improved insulation, they would be more environmentally friendly. This was especially true when coupled with the more energy-efficient heating as well as cooling systems as well as other electric appliances that were available on the market at the time.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and certain councils, such as the City of Sydney, are following Victoria’s lead in removing gas appliances from newly constructed residences. Victoria is the most populous Australian state to take this step.

The Masters Builders Association Victoria and the Property Council of Australia are two organizations that are in favor of the decision made in Victoria because they believe it will bring certainty to the housing market. Several organizations, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, stated that the move helped limit exposure to climate change while also reducing the risk of being exposed to the indoor air pollution.

The evaluation conducted by the government was based on a dual-fuel residence that had an annual energy consumption of 43.5 gigajoules of gas and required 4.3 megawatt-hours of electricity. The annual electricity consumption of an all-electric house is estimated to be 6.3 MWh.

According to Alan Pears, an expert in energy efficiency at RMIT University, the analysis was dependent on the quality of the appliances, notably heat pumps.

However, according to Pears, a house that was constructed in Victoria to the current six-star standard of construction required only a third of the amount of heating that a normal two-star home did.

Despite the fact that “it’s a close-run thing in the short term,” switching to an all-electric house could reduce emissions in comparison to dual-fuel ones even for homes that are already in existence. However, over the course of time, the savings will increase as wind and solar energy displace coal and even gas from the grid, hence reducing the intensity of emissions, as he stated.

According to Alison Reeve, who was one of the authors of a recent research on weaning ourselves off of gas that was published by the Grattan Institute, it was “not wrong” for the Victorian government to use a new house as the foundation for its calculations. That indicated a home that used approximately 55% less electricity for heating, but only 21% less gas compared to the typical one.

It was also expected that the heat pump was extremely efficient, producing four units of heat for every unit of energy that was used. This was in contrast to the Grattan study, which estimated that the heat pump would produce three units of heat for every unit of power spent. Due to the fact that the government’s evaluation anticipated the existence of some upstream emissions, such as pipe leaks, the emissions factor for gas was also slightly higher than it should have been.

According to Reeve, “There are also upstream emissions associated with electricity,” which come from the coalmining and gas extraction industries, which continue to supply the majority of our nation’s electricity. If those were taken into account, the benefits of using electricity rather than gas would be diminished somewhat.

However, the longer it takes people to build a new house, the more likely it is that the benefits of going completely electric, in terms of reducing emissions, will increase.

“If a property developer gets a planning permit for a new development today, and it takes three years to build those houses, then by the time someone moves in and starts using the heater/stove, the Victorian grid is projected to be 15% greener,” said Reeve. “This is assuming that a property developer gets a planning permit for a new development today.”

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