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Mirvac is looking for a “key worker family of four” to live in its high-efficiency “House With No Bills” rent free for a year, in order to inform a wider roll-out of low-carbon housing.

The high-efficiency house, based in Cheltenham in Melbourne’s south-east, incorporates sustainable design and technology that together mean no energy bills are expected to be generated. Features include increased levels of insulation, solar panels and a battery system, a smart meter and monitoring system, automation systems, LED lighting and energy-efficient appliances.

The house is being built in partnership with the CSIRO’s Evergen team, which has developed smart management technology to optimise solar and battery use, which can cut a house’s energy use by 60-80 per cent compared with a house without solar and batteries.

Schneider Electric is providing smart home automation technology that’s expected to reduce grid energy further. Other project partners include Fujitsu, Smeg, Fisher&Paykel, biofilta and Harvey Norman.

The pilot, to begin in 2018, aims to test how an “average” family consumes energy in such a home, using the data to inform house design and sustainable technologies used by Mirvac in future residential development.

To qualify, a household must include a family of two adults over 21 years, and two children under 18 years. One adult must be employed in a care based industry such as education, nursing or emergency services to be considered a “key worker”.

Mirvac chief executive and managing director Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz said the project was an important experiment to understand how the company could deliver a bill-free house to the market “at a price that works for Australian families”.

“The first step is testing to learn more about how we can deliver more affordable and sustainable housing on a mass scale.”

A Mirvac statement also said it hoped that the money saved from living rent free and having no bills would enable the family to save for a deposit to purchase their own home.

The pilot has been welcomed by the Victorian government.

“This is about setting energy efficiency standards that will deliver low-emissions homes with low bills for Victorians for years to come,” energy, environment and climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.

“This is an exciting opportunity for one lucky family, and will provide valuable information about cost of living and energy affordability.”

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  1. A friend tagged me in this post as we are a family of four ABA struggling with the financial demands of raising a child with ASD and a new baby (as Centerlink cut me off from single parent carers payments when I became partnered). We are all about sustainability and use as less water and electricity as we can and are big on recycling and composting. This would be a great year for our family!

  2. A friend sent this to me thinking we would be the perfect family for this! We are a family of 4 living nearby in Bentleigh East. It would be great to experience living with sustainable utilities and a learning experience for the four of us.