The NSW Energy Savings Scheme (ESS): how researchers can provide evidence to drive residential energy efficiency.

The NSW Energy Savings Scheme (ESS): how researchers can provide evidence to drive residential energy efficiency.


Jeremy Tarbox, Ben Cirulis and Brendan Cosgrove

Organisation of Presenter:

Office of Environment and Heritage, Australia


The ESS is a white certificate program with a state target for creation of energy savings certificates, obligations on retailers and large users to buy certificates, and incentives for end users to implement projects and create certificates. This paper discusses the establishment of the scheme, the residential technologies included and engagement with the energy efficiency industry. It then focusses on the difficulties that ESS policy makers face in obtaining an evidence base to provide residential energy efficiency incentives that are credible, conservative and cost effective; and suggests evidence that researchers can develop.
The ESS began in 2009 with methods for electricity savings targeted at commercial and industrial facilities, as well as some well-utilised residential activities like shower rose replacement. In 2014, the Home Energy Efficiency Retrofits Method consolidated residential technologies into 20 deemed electricity savings activities. In 2016, an ESS Review led to gas savings being included. For this, 11 existing deemed savings activities were adjusted and 3 activities were included. The ESS is legislated until 2025, so new activities and adjustments will continue.
Included residential technologies are predominantly lighting, space conditioning, building fabric and hot water technologies. Technologies eligible for small-scale technology certificates under RET can’t access the ESS. Lighting technologies are mostly installing LED. Space conditioning includes reverse cycle air conditioners and ducted gas heaters. Building fabric includes glazing, insulation and draught-proofing. Hot water includes fuel switching from electric resistance to high efficient gas, or upgrading high efficient gas.
All energy users can access the ESS, but to ensure integrity of energy savings, only accredited organisations can register certificates. The NSW Government consults with industry, especially energy efficiency product and service providers on issues of administration requirements, equity and technology coverage.
To have accurate energy savings methodologies to appropriately incentivise current and future technologies in the ESS, policy makers need an evidence base reflective of the housing typologies and stock in NSW. Researchers can assist by developing evidence on energy usage diversity for household size and demographics, occupancy rates, zoning (for space conditioning) and energy usage events (hot water) across the different climate zones in NSW.