Energy Efficiency in the Third Age: Stories from the Front Line

Energy Efficiency in the Third Age: Stories from the Front Line


Stephen Choi

Organisation of Presenter:

Architecture for Change, Australia


In the world of high-flying commercial corporations in the Headquarters of Australia’s Capital cities, the barriers to energy efficiency are well known. However, what happens ‘at the other end’ of the spectrum? This talk aims to provide a detailed account of the solutions that were trialled to help remove the barriers to energy efficiency for a section of society that is often ignored at a policy and industry level: lower income households occupied by people of a mature age.
The project worked closely with a group of people occupying 185 individual homes spread across several thousand square kilometres of NSW. Looking through the lens of someone with limited access to information on how behaviour can impact energy use, a lack of skills in the use of digital tools, limited financial ability to invest in technology, and a far more acute vulnerability to heat and cold stress, the project went beyond the singular factors of saving money and energy, to consider the more important aspects of health and whole quality of life.
Funded by the Commonwealth Department of Industry and Science and eight partner organisations, we collected an unprecedented amount of data to investigate how approaches could and should discard the one-size-fits–all ‘top-down’ strategies that are often imposed when policy tries to address large numbers of people, to be tailored to the individual household through ‘bottom-up’ engagement.
From the surprising challenge of choosing a light bulb and selecting a new fridge to the complications of retrofitting a new hot water system in the middle of winter, this talk is from the perspective of a position titled ‘retrofit co-ordinator’ – a role responsible for selecting, designing, and managing the implementation of various energy-efficiency retrofits, one home at a time.