VIC New Builds: Gas Boosted Solar Hot Water Requirement GONE

Word is on the street that new builds in Victoria no longer have to use a gas-boosted solar hot water service.

That’s because, drum roll please, this has been a long time coming…

Heat pumps are now deemed to meet the rules around energy efficient building.

That’s right folks, the government has finally worked out that heat pumps are efficient, who knew?

What’s The Fuss About?

For some years now, people building a new house in Victoria have had a number of efficiency measures to meet to satisfy Victorian Building Authority rules. For those in the know, it seemed a little ridiculous that getting enough points to approve your new house plans would mean, either you are forced to have a gas connection if reticulated gas was on the street (to boost a solar storage hot water) or conversely you needed a 2000 litre rainwater tank to flush the loo.

That option doesn’t do much for your energy bills, but I assure you that having an electric pump to fill your cistern is a significant reliability and maintenance cost. It’s also something that your landlord will have disconnected and abandoned when it packs up, whereas a gas hot water unit just leaves renters on the hook for gas.

Gas Is Banned For New Estates, What About Old Ones?

You may want to get proper government clarification on the implications of this – for any new build that requires a planning permit that commences after 1 Jan 2024, this will essentially be superseded by the ban on gas connections. Where this really has an impact are knock down/rebuilds or infill new builds who don’t want gas-boosted solar hot water.

It would start from yesterday’s date, so for anyone already building, it wouldn’t apply, as they would have met old criteria in their building permit. If I were building with plans approved before 1 Jan 2024, I wouldn’t want to install gas anything, so it may be worth inquiring about the changes being applied.

Can We Please Have Some Cross-Border Rivalry Here?

I shouldn’t be too hard on the Victorian Government for being slow to recognise heat pumps. They’ve had the foresight and political will to ban gas connections in new homes, which is just great news for consumers who would otherwise be on the hook for ongoing gas bills.

About Anthony Bennett

Anthony joined the SolarQuotes team in 2022. He’s a licensed electrician, builder, roofer and solar installer who for 14 years did jobs all over SA - residential, commercial, on-grid and off-grid. A true enthusiast with a skillset the typical solar installer might not have, his blogs are typically deep dives that draw on his decades of experience in the industry to educate and entertain. Read Anthony's full bio.

Comments

  1. Tim Chirgwin says

    Now that some government figures have reversed the stupidity of forced gas connections, and they realise that heat pumps HWS are a more energy efficient system, we ALL should rethink the use of old tech. reliable quiet, low cost and easy fix, resistive HWS,… that has been demonised in the past,… and put enough solar PV on our roof to make the resistive Hot Water ” system” run directly from the sun, and challenge the pretentious heat pumps too!

    With the piddling FIT now offered, and for those who look at the total energy life cycle of complicated refrigeration systems and dumping costs, its time to applaud the smartened up “quiet achiever”,… resistive HWS plus rooftop PV.

    • Heat Pumps are better for the grid in Melbourne than resistive. Otherwise every house will have an extra ~6-8kWh demand in the middle of winter when grid consumption is at its peak and solar self-consumption & production is at its worst. Winter grid demand will keep going up as a ratio to other seaonal demand with heating electrification, and meeting this demand will be expensive so no point in adding more.

      For other Oz locations where heating demand isn’t dominant, resistive + smarts (timer or diverter) makes a lot of sense.

    • Im hoping this will happen naturally though given the cost of the Ausgrid Offpeak 2 electiricity I pay for maybe not (19c!). They really need an offpeak 3 between 10am an 2pm for solar soak and it needs to be nearer to 5c.

  2. Tim Chirgwin says

    I partially agree with your comment Andrew, that space heating in winter could conflict with the heating of water via electricity, but,… we should remember that most of the space heating occurs in the evening when solar pv is not available and this energy is generated from fossil fuels or wind power at that time.

    Our own PV surplus in the middle of the day can be put into our own hot water tanks at that time, when we use little or no space heating anyway.

    Any opportunity we waste by not utilising our own Solar PV at such times is at huge cost to us financially, as the FIT is typically only 5 to 6c while the energy we purchase to heat homes when we come home from work is more like 50c at peak times.

    Clearly smaller living zones should be implemented within our housing to address the space heating costs, no matter how the energy is obtained.

    One of the major problems is many people want to keep up with the Jones’ and forget the ongoing running cost of building large houses.

    • Anthony Bennett says

      Good points Tim,

      The other thing we have to address is the volume builders who push home theatres & butlers kitchens “all for the included price”

      They quote a square metre size and tell the customers they’re getting bang for buck. As you say there’s never any mention of running cost. It’s like the car industry in the 1950s, they wanted to promote the romance and freedom of chrome plated motoring without mentioning the cost of road safety. We know that seat belts save lives, it’s about time that builders were forced to point out that efficiency saves money.

      Maybe an energy/running cost per metre square figure quoted beside the final price would help do the trick?

      • Tim Chirgwin says

        “Maybe an energy/running cost per metre square figure quoted beside the final price would help do the trick?”

        I think this would, while factually correct, show that bigger houses are more energy efficient per m2,…the wrong message. while if the yearly running cost of heating/cooling such homes was advertised then people might see a energy cost of say $1500 per year for a smaller home as opposed to $4000 for a large home, and then perhaps their “forever home” cost would be apparent.

        My thinking is if a smaller home was built, then the money saved in purchase and running costs would buy them an EV and pay its running cost as well,..who wouldn’t want that?

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