The Future of Living is Electric Part 2   - The Benefits & Design Implications or the $0 Home

From the desk of Redback CEO, Patrick Matweew. 

In 2018, Australian builder Mirvac had a property concept that they called a “zero bill house”. The idea was simple, to see if a family could live in the property for a year without incurring a single gas or electricity bill thanks to solar panels and battery storage.

Households that power their lives using PV and storage systems free up a certain amount of their available budget every month that previously was spent on utilities. The saved amount then becomes disposable income to the household and can be spent on what really matters to that family. This could be a dinner with the family, top-up savings for the next vacation or just that peace of mind that there is some extra money available to pay for the mortgage or credit card.

The option to use the electricity bills savings to pay back mortgages is very relevant and important. It is also likely that in the near future, households with solar and storage will be classified as lower risk when it comes to mortgage repayments. This could ultimately mean lower rates which will translate into the solar and storage system becoming “free” as it is paid by the savings on mortgage repayments.

I believe the future of solar is one where few houses will be commissioned without a solar and storage bundle. Australians will not want to waive that benefit from their mortgage rates, especially if it has no direct impact on the home buyer. This then will be amplified by the fact that installing solar and storage when the house is built in the safest, fastest and therefore the cheapest way to install a system. This will, in turn, reduce the price tag and increase the attractiveness of a home that is highly self-supporting when it comes to electricity.

Interestingly, in a research conducted in 2018i, 23% of the responding households said that part of their motivation to invest in renewable energy technology on their property was that they perceive an increased home value. This supports the above view that more and more consumers understand that they can make significant savings when they live in a house that is partly or fully self-sufficient.

In my opinion, a solar and storage solution, paired with modern, heat-pump technology for hot water/heating will become the default setting for household-level utility equipment in the next five years. While today we must actively request such equipment when specifying our new home, in the not so distant future we will have to actively opt-out

Australians that aim to purchase an existing house or plan to build a new one should have solar and storage on their buying checklist and understand their options. As an example, the pitch and angle of a roof space may seem insignificant at first, but it can become a valuable commodity that can help to save thousands of dollars.

Architects, developers and builders also need to develop a better understanding if they want to sell their services and products. Complicated roof geometries might be quite common today, but they will impact the ability to install effective and efficient home energy systems that customers will make a pre-requisite. Architects, developers and builders will begin rethinking design plans to build with the sun in mind, achieving maximum customer value. A “zero bill” home is a very compelling sales argument.

Based on what we see and hear from an increasing number of consumers who have installed a Redback smart hybrid storage system, the zero-bill home has become a reality already. They have one thing less to worry about and peace of mind when it comes to their cost of electricity.