A house with no bills? What sounds too good to be true will be put to the test by one of Australia's biggest developers, Mirvac, at a housing estate in middle Melbourne, according to The Australian Financial Review today.
The aim is to deliver a home without energy or gas bills. If that can be achieved, most of the effort will come from the way the house is constructed and the efficiency of energy use within it.
Reducing the reliance on electricity means more insulation inside the roof, use of LED lighting, and energy-efficient appliances. Solar PV panels, batteries and a passive solar design will also be used.
Smart meters and monitoring systems will be key tools to allow the occupants to keep track of how their energy is being used.
"Our ultimate goal is to uncover exactly how people use energy so that we can design affordable energy-efficient homes," Mirvac's head of residential John Carfi said.
Is it really possible to populate the nation with "no-bills" homes? That's a question that has already been considered by Larissa Nicholls, a research fellow at RMIT University's Centre for Urban Research, who will be watching the Mirvac experiment with interest.
"It's realistic," said Dr Nicholls. "It's not such a great leap to be doing this, but it's rare, so it's good to see it happening."
Already, it is possible to cut energy use down to one fifth of what is normally consumed by employing the efficient design, construction and appliances now available, according to Dr Nicholls.
Mirvac's Cheltenham experiment has also drawn praise from Green Building Council of Australia chief executive Romilly Madew.
"A project of this scale has yet to be attempted by a major developer with the potential to make it commercially viable and scalable," she said.
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