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Five in the house and a power bill of $30 a month… It could be you

Annelies Brandjes
Annelies Brandjes

With the biggest number of Solar Homes installations going into new housing estates on Melbourne’s fringe, one new buyer is showing how thousands of people could get much more value from their solar.

Annelies Brandjes is getting power bills of $30 a month in her new home – one of a group of conventional off-the-plan townhouses - which she moved into in February 2018.

Her father, Jan, who has been working on energy efficient buildings for more than 36 years in Victoria and northern Canada’s freezing Yukon region knew adding solar panels was just part of the way to cut energy costs and make the house more comfortable.

Jan ensured a 100 per cent correct installation of insulation in the walls and ceiling – including the space between the ground and second floors - and sealed all conceivable gaps and cracks in the building envelope.

At around $1000, adding the insulation was a low-cost do-it-yourself option, done with the permission of the builder, whose supervisor had attended one of Jan’s building industry lectures on energy efficiency.

“He understood what we were trying to do and was all for it,” said Jan who is semi-retired, but has specialised in energy efficiency construction and consulting for most of his working life.

“If you properly seal a building – stop drafts and unwanted airflow - your energy use can be cut by 25 per cent, without solar. After Annelies added solar, the energy use was better-than-half again,” he said.

Annelies says investing in insulation during construction, and a four-kilowatt solar system more recently, would have a negligible effect on her mortgage.

“I’m here for the long-term. This is my big investment and I wanted a system that would be very efficient, with long warranties, and last.”

“As I didn’t need a large system because of the efficiency of the house, I could get better quality and still more than meet my needs. “

“A bonus is that there is negligible noise from the Calder Freeway just over the back fence.”

“The house is warmer in winter, cooler in summer and my monthly energy bill is around $30, even though I’m here with my brother, sister and parents when they’re not travelling.”

Find out about how you can renovate your home for energy efficiency.

Reviewed 22 August 2023

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