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 Michelle and her husband sit on the veranda of their sustainable home

How much did this sustainable home cost to build and run?

March 25, 2024
May 12, 2020

Picture the scene: you are an adult human being. You care about the environment and would quite like, maybe one day, to perhaps own your own home (OR sell your current home and exchange it for a more sustainable home). The only trouble? Houses are very expensive, and you don’t really know how to get into the whole sustainable home market

The good news (spoiler alert: there is no bad news) is that our Clean Energy Home Loan is designed, quite literally, to make it easier for Australians to access sustainable housing, and do so at a price that will not cripple them financially for centuries to come.

What’s the deal? Basically, if you are buying or building a NatHERS (Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme) rated 7 Star or higher home, or planning sustainable upgrades, you could be eligible for a reduced interest rate on your home loan; that means you get rewarded for going sustainable.

Now, let’s talk about Michelle.

Michelle is a (real) Bank Australia customer, just like you, and Michelle and her young family have a Bank Australia Clean Energy Home Loan. They did a tree-change to build the sustainable home of their dreams in a development down in Cape Paterson, on the Bunurong Coast, about an hour and a half out of Melbourne.

Black and white photo of Michelle, her husband and two kids sitting on the veranda of their home

And get this: Michelle’s house – boasting three bedrooms, large open plan living, a kitchen, dining room, lounge, two bathrooms, garage and studio – cost them just $420,000 ($2,200 PSQM) to build. Add on the land prices, and the bill for the whole thing came in at around $600,000.

After the arrival of their first baby, Michelle and her partner Nathan moved out of the small house they owned and into a larger rental property in Melbourne. It looked beautiful, but when they brought that little baby home, in the middle of winter, they realised they had missed some key details. That hadn’t checked “under the bonnet,” as Michelle puts it.

“There were gaps in the floorboards and gas appliances,” she says. “Being in the city, we were paying exorbitant rent and then in the middle of winter, given the house’s energy inefficiency and lack of insulation, we were paying a huge energy bill on top of it. There needs to be greater awareness and transparency about energy ratings of homes, because a poor performing home can affect quality of life.”

Having both worked in the sustainability space for the best part of 15 years, Michelle and Nathan began looking at their options. They caught wind of a new sustainable development down in Cape Paterson, Victoria, and did some research. Before long they’d bought a plot. And before a little longer, they’d built a house.

But what, exactly, makes a house sustainable?

“For a start, it’s built with a north-facing aspect, which should be a basic principle,” says Michelle. “It’s properly insulated and sealed – and that may sound like common practice, but the average Australian home has the equivalent of one square metre air leakage throughout the house. So we're not leaking heat unnecessarily.”

The ultimate goal of the whole project is to not just minimise the carbon footprint of the house during construction, but to minimise its carbon footprint, every single day, after construction too.

A big part of this is keeping the house warm in winter and cool in summer: well-placed natural light, double glazing and insulation are key.

Other key green features include:

  • thermal mass
  • all electric appliances
  • recycled timbers
  • solar panels.

The solar panels, says Michelle, create more than enough energy to run their house, so they wind up feeding power back into the grid, which helps offset their infrastructure costs.

“It's an all-electric home so we're not worried about being locked into gas costs,” says Michelle. “We’re reducing our bills while running everything on solar, and we're looking into storage solutions with our neighbours, too – either through electric vehicles or a central battery, emergency grid.”

So far, Michelle and Nathan’s switch to more sustainable living has paid off. Not only have they built their dream home in a stunning location, but they’ve done it at a price that’s much more affordable than they would’ve found in the city, and they’ve done it all sustainably.

“Everyone should be able to experience this level of comfort,” says Michelle. “With this loan from Bank Australia, we can afford to borrow money at a cheaper rate, so we're actually being rewarded for choosing to design a more efficient home.

Not only that, but we’ve reduced our environmental impact and have fewer bills, which means we can spend that money on the everyday costs of raising a family, and invest our time in our growing community.”

Read more

Find out more about the Bank Australia Clean Energy Home Loan and explore tips for how to switch from gas to electric at home.

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