Attention new housing builders: buyers will win from energy-smart homes

The Energy Data Papers by Wattwatchers

EDITION 1: Energy-Smart Homes

Today’s homeowners can easily be left stuck like sitting ducks when confronted with record high energy prices.

Think about it. No one would buy a new car without a fuel gauge, a speed dial and an odometer. People need to know when to refill the fuel tank, when to slow down or speed up, and how far they’ve travelled.

People also need to know how fast their home is running. They’ll appreciate moving into a new home that from Day 1 can tell them how it is using energy. In the internet age, full of intelligent devices and apps that support everyday lifestyles, people can justifiably expect more from their home – which for most is the biggest investment they will ever make.

Enter the Energy-Smart Home … which allows home builders to present a truly energy-smart, future-ready product that:

  • Puts the home’s electricity data on the internet, displaying on smartphones, tablets or computers
  • Shows homeowners exactly how much electricity they are using in real-time, and also over time by maintaining an easy-to-search historical record
  • Supports them to buy electricity better, save energy (and therefore money) by being more efficient, and to use power at less expensive times of the day
  • Opens up more smart energy/smart home opportunities, including customer options to monitor their generation as well if they have rooftop solar, or to upgrade if they don’t; to remotely control appliances like air-conditioning systems and pool pumps; and to connect with home automation and move to electric vehicles
  • Provides the builder with data-rich, highly-granular measurement and verification of how the homes they build and the energy-related features they include perform, operationally and over time

In this era of high energy prices – and with more choice for householders than ever before in terms of where they can get their energy from, how they use it and what they pay for the privilege – real-time data can make a big difference.

By equipping a ready-to-go Energy-Smart Home, home builders make their customers job-ready to make the best of today’s increasingly multi-faceted energy marketplace, and to be prepared for future change as well; while at the same time gaining unprecedented insights into how the homes they build actually perform.

There’s also a first-mover/early-mover opportunity to generate PR and show industry leadership.



Until this decade the vast majority of Australian homes had a simple relationship with the energy system.

Homes were connected to the electricity grid, and often to the gas network as well, and the energy flowed one-way into the house or apartment as it was being used. Bills were sent for power and gas every quarter, and people paid these like a tax; a necessary evil over which they had little if any control.

Prices were relatively low, however, so people grumbled a bit at bill payment due-date time but mainly just got on with their daily lives. The telephone bill often was much scarier.

Then electricity prices went on a run that has seen them roughly double over the past decade, and gas prices are well on the way to trebling.

At the same time the cost of rooftop solar PV systems, which allow households to generate their own renewable energy from the free fuel sunlight, was falling and now for many homes it’s less expensive to produce your own electricity than to buy it from the grid.

Some homes even sell their electricity back into the grid, and others can get paid to participate in programs where they reduce their electricity consumption at times of peak demand on the grid to help the system to keep operating without blackouts.

Whatever you want to do in the new energy marketplace, having the power of data in your hands will help. That’s what we mean by an Energy-Smart Home.


Future ready too

In 2007 there were only about 10,000 Australian homes with rooftop solar. By 2018 there were nearly two million, a world record, and the number keeps growing.

Big change in the energy marketplace is far from over, and living in an Energy-Smart Home prepares you to deal with whatever is coming.

Owning and controlling their own electricity data helps householders to be ready for:

  • Assessing what tariff works best for your household e.g. flat or time-of-use
  • Integrating your electricity use with your home automation & cloud services
  • Participating in local programs that pay you not to use energy at peak demand times
  • Adding solar PV or upsizing an existing rooftop installation
  • Knowing when or if it’s time to upgrade to battery energy storage
  • Preparing to move to an electric vehicle with at-home charging
  • Trading your electricity with the grid, or with other homes in your area

With rising costs increasingly pricing gas out of the residential market altogether, electricity data helps households to be ready and in-control for what promises to become an all-electric era.


In conclusion

From the day people move in, and activate their Energy-Smart Home, they’ll be able to:

  • See how fast they are going energy-wise
  • Save money by making simple behaviour changes for energy efficiency, and making informed investments in low-energy appliances
  • Participate fully in the new era for energy and keep pace with more change still to come – saving money, with improved quality of life, and better for the environment too



Multiple Impacts of Household Energy Efficiency – ACIL Allen report to Energy Consumers Australia, October 2017

The multiple impacts of energy efficiency include the impacts of energy efficiency on:

  • health and wellbeing
  • other participant benefits
  • the energy system
  • the overall economy

Energy Consumers Australia Housing Summit

Background Paper

What are Distributed Energy Resources (DER)? (Video explainer produced by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency)




There’s never a better time to install a Wattwatchers device than when a home is being built. A Wattwatchers device installed by the electrician at a single-phase wired site* can monitor up to 6 individual electrical loads e.g. main grid connection (for import and export), solar PV, hot water, air-conditioning unit, granny flat, pool or spa pump, kitchen circuit. Add the control option to remotely switch circuit-based loads for a modest additional charge.


FOOTNOTE: The Energy Data Papers by Wattwatchers is a Wattwatchers Digital Energy team series that we’ll be running irregularly throughout 2019 and beyond.