Case Studies

Jennie of Neutral Bay Brain of Chatswood Carly on ebike Carolyn of Chatwood John of Artarmon

See how others in our community are moving towards Net Zero

Andrew of Chatswood - the fully electric home
Andrew is an empty nester and whilst now retired, had a career working in the oil and gas industry for 40 years - which gave him a unique view of the climate denial claims published within that industry and inspired his passion for renewables.

How it started
More than 10 years ago Andrew attended a talk on renewable energy that really stuck with him. In February 2020, when lockdowns spoiled Andrew’s travel plans, he had some cash to spare and time on his hands, so it was time to think about going solar.

Rooftop solar
Andrew spoke to neighbours with solar and attended a Willoughby Council solar workshop before using the website to get 3 or 4 quotes. The panels were installed within a week.

Home battery
When Andrew heard feed in tariffs were reducing, Andrew went back to his original installer and had a battery installed, as well as more panels, so he could use more of his own energy.

Air conditioning
Becoming increasingly aware of the health implications of his wood burning fire, and being sick of cutting wood, Andrew then looked to an online guide for air conditioners and had a reverse cycle air conditioner installed.

Electric vehicle
When Andrew’s car was written off and his home was producing excess solar the next logical step was an EV. Around the same time his kitchen stove needed repairs worth $400, so he tried out induction cooking and found it so irresistible the gas stove was replaced with an induction option. In the roughly two years since buying the EV Andrew calculates he has saved around $2400 compared to the cost of diesel in his previous vehicle.

Hot water
After all these steps Andrew was only using his home gas connection for hot water, and while that system didn’t look like breaking down any time soon Andrew’s gas connection fee was more than his usage fee. So, to get off gas altogether Andrew installed a heat pump hot water system and hasn’t looked back.

A happy homeowner
Andrew says all the installations were trouble free, and appliances work as advertised.

Andrew says it’s not cheap to fully electrify a household, and he hasn’t worked out when he will recoup his full investment. But for Andrew there is immense satisfaction in knowing that his use of fossil fuel generated electricity from the grid is very, very small, just during a few days of winter.

Brian of Chatswood - Strata apartment electrification
Brian and his wife live in a 48-unit strata building. With a commitment to living a more sustainable and healthier lifestyle Brian took on the challenge of installing rooftop solar and an industrial electric heat pump hot water system for residents’ hot water.

Rooftop solar
Brian engaged an independent consultant to provide a recommendation for suitable systems for the apartment block, which was used to obtain quotes. A 30kW solar system was installed in September 2021, with a matching three-phase inverter. This supplies most of the electricity for the common areas.

According to Brian, "the estimated payback period of the solar PV system is only 3.8 years, and the building's residents are now enjoying reduced electricity bills for the lifetime of the system."

Electric heat pump
The solar system was producing more power than the common areas were using, and the building’s central gas hot water system was aging, so in October the Owners Corporation installed an industrial heat pump which now provides hot water for all 48 units.

Electric induction cooktop
In 2022 Brian replaced his gas cooktop with an induction cooktop. Brian says the new cooktop is easier to use and clean, is less of a safety hazard and is healthier to use. And he was able to completely disconnect from gas and avoid the costly ongoing connection charge.

Big achievements in strata living
As many apartment dwellers know, it is not always easy to make big changes to reduce your emissions - Brian has shown though that it is definitely possible. He is happy to help others looking to make similar changes.

Carly of Chatswood - the electric bike
Carly is currently the lead on Kylea’s Powering to Net Zero team. Carly, her husband and two primary aged kids live in Chastswood.

Why an electric bike
Carly and her husband got their first electric bike as a wedding gift, many years ago when it was rare to see an e-bike on the roads. They have since upgraded to one with a bit more oomph - and the ability to carry a child or groceries on the back - it can even take both adults.

For Carly and her family, while they have one hybrid vechile, the e-bike takes the place of a second car. They can take kids around, avoid parking and traffic woes, save money, and reduce emissions.

Pros and Cons

  • The e-bike is often the fastest way to travel short distances, and is a very handy way to duck to the local shops - especially on the weekend when traffic and parking is chaotic.
  • When you have a child under 12 on the back you are allowed to ride on footpaths, easy safety worries.
  • E-bikes are great for commuting to work - you don’t get sweaty and there is no need for lycra. Carly can get to work in North Sydney much faster than on public transport.

Some downsides to factor in:
  • E-bikes tend to be quite heavy (only an issue if you want to take them on a train, move them by car etc)
  • It can take a few rides to get used to the new style of bike, or to riding at all if you have't cycled for a while
  • You may need to invest in a high quality bike lock as thieves love e-bikes. Carly has had one stolen from the station and now has an alarmed bike lock that is very hard to cut through (around $120)

Tips for new bikers

  • Ensure you buy from a reputable retailer and ensure the battery charger is high quality
  • Embrace the novelty factor - e-bikes are great fun! People will look, and ask questions, especially if you have a child on the back. Carly has found that pedestrians and other cyclists often ask about your bike. Be ready to tell lots of people about the joys of e-bikes.
  • Don’t be afraid to give it a go. Try commuting to work, or dropping your kids to school on the bike and see how much more pleasant it can be than driving or taking public transport.

Carolyn of Chatswood - rooftop solar and home batteries
Caroline is a Constituent Liaison Officer in Kylea Tink’s Electorate Office. Her family of 5 lives in Chatswood, both adults often work from home.

Rooftop solar
Carolyn installed 27 panels October 2023. She decided to install a 13 Kw battery as well to make the most of the energy generated during the day.

The outcome
Carolyn’s home now produces enough energy from rooftop solar to go a long way towards powering the air-conditioning most days, and regular use of the heat-pump pool heater. They now feel less guilty about keeping their house air-conditioned and comfortable in summer, which is excellent as at least one adult works from home each day. As they can also heat their pool, their teenage girls can get a lot more use out of this space over the year.

Return on investment
Carolyn expects the new system to pay itself off in about 6 years. Having the solar system also adds value to the house and gives a buffer during neighborhood power outages.

Carolyn has found it very satisfying knowing how much power her home is generating on a sunny day, and as a family they have become much more aware of how they are using energy day to day.

Jennie of Neutral Bay - the heat pump hot water system
Jennie lives in a semi with her husband and two teenage children. Jennie and her family already have solar and an electric car, and in 2023 Jennie decided to change their gas hot water system to an electric heat pump system.

Jennie confesses that, despite being in a gender stereotypical marriage with an extremely “handy” husband who usually manages all renovations and maintenance, she wanted to manage the conversion from gas hot water to electric heat pump hot water. She says it wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be, but she has learnt a lot!

Jennie quickly found that installers are not well versed in advising on heat pumps. You need to know which system you like when looking for installers.

Jennie suggests you avoid waiting until your existing system breaks. If your home is suddenly without hot water the replacement becomes a rush and often the easiest option is to replace like with like. Which for most people will not be the newest electric heat pump technology.

Jennie found these websites useful in determining which kind of heat pump hot water system suited her:

These resources helped her streamline the decisions she needed to make, which were:

  1. Placement - could it go in the same location as the old gas hot water system?
    • Can an electrical circuit get to it? (they don’t always have to have their own circuit but it is preferred)
    • Could it go on the roof, is it solar hot water? (no, Jennie’s roof was full of solar panels)
  2. Refrigerant - different systems use different refrigerants. Jennie wanted hers to use C02, as it is the least environmentally hazardous option. Refer to the above website for more info.
  3. Split system or not? For Jennie the best option was a split system as she has space for it and needed to split the weight over a greater footprint.
  4. Tank size - needed to suit family of 4
  5. Noise - Jennie chose a very quiet system (37 decibels) as the neighbors balconies are very close to the heat pump
  6. Cost - Jenie was prepared to invest in quality as they intend to leave their home ‘feet first’
  7. Programmability - Jennie wanted to be able to program it with an app so she could use it as storage (like a battery) for her solar generated power (more info in the links above).
  8. Timing - Jennie wanted to replace her 12 year old gas system before it broke. So timing was of the essence but it was not an emergency replacement.

System and installation
Jennie settled on a Sanden, 250L, split system, with CO2 refrigerant and a wi-fi controller with app.

Jennie went to friends in her neighbourhood for recommendations for an installer. 3/3 recommended the same installation company, so she went with them. Jennie confirmed this installer was able to access the current rebates being offered by state and local government and supply the model she wanted. They installed it in a single visit, including all electrical, gas and plumbing work.

A happy hot water using homeowner
Jennie’s system is now installed and working beautifully. It runs for about 1 hr each day at 10:00am, so Jennie estimates on sunny days it is costing the family nothing, thanks to their roof top solar system.

Jennie estimates the old gas system was costing approximately $620 / year for hot water (30MJ / day on hot water x 5c / MJ (current gas price with gas retailer).

Jennie is now looking forward to another 12-15 years of never thinking about where her hot water comes from.

John of Artarmon - strata living electrification
John Dobbs
John and his wife downsized to an apartment in 2008 and since then have been taking as many steps possible to minimise the emissions from their home and vehicle. John successfully has solar installed on the build’s rooftop, overcoming many perceived barriers along the way.

How it started
John's interest in climate change was initiated when he read the book “Limits to Growth” - published by the Club of Rome in the early 1970s. He has since watched how closely reality follows those 1970s predictions, and been motivated to do what he can as an individual. He wants to be able to tell his grandchildren he did his bit!

Rooftop solar
The biggest achievement John has had to date is his move to reduce emissions to install solar on the roof of his strata building. Johns says it wasn’t actually that difficult, and in the end he and six other residents in the building installed solar, and they are now enjoying paying less for their energy.

Other steps
Within his own apartment, John has changed all lights to LEDs, saving a significant amount of electricity. He has changed his gas cooktop to an induction one, which he finds very easy to use - and so much nicer to clean.

If you have any questions for the people featured in our case studies please reach out via the office.

The opinions and experiences shared by the individuals featured above are their own, and in no way endorsed by Kylea Tink MP. Please consult suitable professionals to be sure any choices you are considering are right for you and your home.