Victorian homes that ditch the gas connection in favour of all-electric appliances could save around $700 every year on their energy bills, new modelling has shown.

This is despite state planning regulations that force new housing developments into establishing gas connections, increasing energy bills and extending reliance on the carbon-emitting fossil fuel.

The story so far in Victoria’s gas wars:

“…there are still hidden subsidies for the gas industry through regulations that force many new homes to get a gas connection even though they’d be better off without one,” Environment Victoria climate and energy analyst Rai Miralles said.

The report by Environment Victoria and Renew titled, Creating Victoria’s First Gas-Free Suburbs, found 6-Star rated homes without solar could save $735 a year by going all electric without a gas connection.

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Victoria needs to shut the door on gas

COMMENT: The Victorian government has opened the door to the end of gas in its state; it’s big job. But quite frankly it needs to shut the door. We have alternatives.

“Comparing a basic house with gas appliances versus electric appliances, the all-electric house saves at least $700 per year,” Renew sustainable housing advocate Rob McLeod said.

“If you then make that house more efficient and add solar, you’re looking at savings of up to $1795 per year, cutting bills by up to 80 per cent. Even better, putting those savings into your mortgage could reduce a home loan by two years.”

Victoria: the gassy state

As one of the colder states, Victoria consumes gas at a disproportionate rate to the rest of Australia, accounting for 42 per cent of Australia’s household gas connections and around two thirds of total usage.

Most, or three quarters of gas used in Victorian homes is for space heating with roughly one quarter for water heating and only a small fraction for cooking.

Both the Victorian government and gas industry have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into expanding and maintaining gas networks over the past decade, with public subsidies only very recently ceasing, but not before the state dropped $42.5 million to probe for new resources through the Victorian Gas Program.

According to Renew and Environment Victoria, two key planning regulations are still impacting the decision-making of developers and holding the state back from transitioning — the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPP) and Victorian Plumbing Regulations.

Respectively, they require that if a gas connection is available, residential developments must be connected to “the satisfaction of the relevant gas supply agency”, and that new solar hot water heaters must be boosted by gas and heat pump water heaters are only allowed to be installed if they are not connected to the main electric supply.

“These regulations should be changed as a matter of urgency to allow all-electric homes in new developments,” the report stated.

A group of several Victorian City Councils are already in the process of working towards a planning scheme amendment that will introduce zero carbon standards for new commercial and residential developments.

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