By Charlie Phillips
I co-founded ESEC to create a worker-owned energy services business. ESEC’s model is to offer Victorians transparent advice and high-quality solutions to improve energy efficiency and comfort. These services, such as energy assessments and draught-proofing reduce energy costs and emissions and are proven to have a positive impact on household comfort and health outcomes.
The evidence is clear: Victorian homes are inefficient, and dangerously ill-suited to our cold winters and hot summers. Victorian homes urgently need future-proofing to remain comfortable without constantly running expensive heaters and cooling all day. As rooftop solar and other renewables increase their share in our energy supply, every household will need to reconfigure how we use our energy and join this revolution in energy, from abundant daytime electricity generated on our roofs, to home batteries, electric vehicles and beyond.
Together with trade unions and environmental groups, Earthworker Cooperative established CoPower to scale up our plan for a solidarity economy, by driving an energy transition centred around economic democracy. The solidarity economy is put into practice through the democratic budget, which has supported climate action causes and funded development of new worker co-ops.
This emergent solidarity economy is already offering benefits to CoPower customers. This month, we started the Smart energy efficiency identifier pilot to identify households with high energy use, who will benefit most from energy efficiency advice. This support will provide them with the transparent and expert advice necessary to reduce their energy use, whilst improving home comfort and liveability.
Traditional electricity retailers have very little interest in reducing their customers’ reliance on high energy use. By rejecting a profit-driven approach and focusing on a solidarity model, CoPower is truly able to represent the interests of its customer-members.
In the future we plan to work with CoPower to provide energy not as a commodity but as a service. Energy-as-a-service can take many forms, but could have huge benefits to low-income households with high energy usage. Instead of paying upfront for energy efficiency upgrades, households on lower incomes can engage a service provider to install and manage upgrades, paying this back via a subscription fee, rather than the traditional per unit of energy (kWh). Trust in the service provider, transparency and a guarantee that households will see a benefit, will be crucial to seeing such a model succeed. As a social movement committed to solidarity economics, CoPower can deliver such a service.
In the meantime, we all need to be doing as much as we can to upgrade our homes to be more energy efficient. We have assessed and retrofitted hundreds of homes across Victoria.We have found that nearly all homes will benefit from an energy efficiency assessment and thermal upgrade. We currently operate across Victoria. To help CoPower customers get started, ESEC is offering 10% off the cost of a Home Thermal Efficiency Assessment, to a total of $225 inc GST. Get in touch: admin@smartenergycooperative.
This assessment will provide you with the expert information necessary to understand your home’s thermal performance, and plan upgrades to the home such as:
If you’d like to help CoPower monitor the pilot project and share knowledge and ideas about saving energy and making our homes more comfortable, you can join our Energy Efficiency Action Group. Our next meeting is taking place online at 10am Melbourne time on Thursday 30th November 2023: Click here to register.
Photos from Top to bottom.