A recent study on energy efficiency reveals that Australian homes can save millions of dollars over the next 30 years by ensuring better insulation.

Conducted by Pitt & Sherry in partnership with the Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity (A2EP), Knauf Insulation and the Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries (AWCI), the research on the energy efficiency of Australian homes revealed that current minimum requirements for insulation under Australia’s building regulations were not the most cost-effective. Insulation levels higher than the current minimum requirement could save residents $312 million over 30 years, with the benefits far outweighing the upfront cost.

For instance, Western Australian residents could achieve around $100 million, while Queensland fared the best, with their regulation being the closest to cost-optimal levels. Ceilings on average required a 50% increase in insulation and walls up to 35%; inadequate insulation, however, will cost individual households anywhere up to $6,000 over time in heating and cooling expenses.

Tony Westmore, General Manager, A2EP believes the analysis highlights an important issue, given that heating and cooling make up an average of a third of home energy bills. He explains that most of the new buildings will only adhere to the minimum code requirements when it comes to insulation. However, this is not the most cost-effective solution and a vast majority of Australian homes would benefit from insulation levels above the current standard.

The study also found that retrofitting was very cost-effective, paying for itself through savings on energy bills in less than 8 years in almost every case. Observing that the cost factor was compelling, Mr Westmore said the health and sustainability benefits of better insulated housing were also important considerations. For instance, low indoor temperatures in winter could have an adverse impact on health. Unnecessary air-conditioning in summer was not only expensive, but also contributed to costly peaks and drew on polluting power.

According to the research study, topping up ceiling insulation in existing homes was a major priority. An uninsulated home loses and gains more heat through the ceiling and roof than any other part of the house. About 22% of heat from the average uninsulated house is lost through the walls and up to 30% through the ceiling.

Knauf Insulation Managing Director Stuart Dunbar notes that the research provides solid evidence of just how cost-effective insulation is for Australian homes. He adds that the benefits of insulation should last the life of the building with minimal maintenance, unlike heaters and air conditioners that need to be serviced and eventually replaced.