So when developers and builders are planning and building new homes and estates today, they should ensure those homes can cater for these emerging technologies, even if they are not immediately required.

Ergon Energy has just released a 12-page Developers Energy Guide that explains the costs and benefits of the new technologies and how they can be combined to deliver a “smart home” – that’s one that helps families manage their energy costs and improve their lifestyles.

The publication is primarily designed for residential developers and forward-thinking builders who want to make their developments, and the homes in those developments, smarter and “future proof”.

Anyone thinking of building or buying a new home also will find the guide a useful tool in considering which features they need today and what they may consider essential tomorrow.

Prospective new home buyers may find preparing in advance for some of these feature will add slightly to the cost of a new home, but will work out much cheaper than retro-fitting later on.

Some of the tips in the guide include:

  • Install a solar PV system. For a typical home, a system costing between $4000 and $5000 can reduce power bills by $500 to $1000 a year, depending on energy use patterns.
  • Use a switchboard timer costing from $50 or a home energy management system costing from $300 to program appliances such as hot water systems and pool filters to run between 9am and 3pm when solar PV production is at its highest.
  • Alternatively, connect these appliances that do not require a continuous power supply to an economy, or off-peak, tariff.
  • Install a PeakSmart air-conditioner that can be fitted with a receiver that enables Ergon to temporarily reduce its energy demand, potentially entitling the owner to a cash incentive.
  • Get ready for electric vehicles by having a 15-amp plug installed in the garage for home charging, which for most owners will be best done overnight on an off-peak tariff.
  • Install a home energy management system (HEMS), a smart device that monitors, analyses and controls energy in the home to help owners keep energy costs down. Some HEMS are being used to maximise solar use on-site, control batteries and adjust electricity consumption to match tariff pricing signals.
  • Install a battery energy storage system, or pre-wire to be ready to do so as prices fall in the next three to five years. Batteries are able to store excess energy produced by a solar PV system during the day for use during the evening and night. Depending on the electrical configuration, they may also be able to provide electricity when there is a power outage.
  • Opt for an “all-electric” home for simplicity and to avoid the additional costs for having both electricity and gas. The advantages will be magnified as new technologies are introduced.

Further information about each of these hints is contained in the Developers Energy Guide (PDF 857.9 kb).