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Experimenting for energy efficiency It’s often thought that environmentally conscious solutions come with a hefty price tag, but Mirvac’s Affordability Experiment, in partnership with Synergy, Keystart and TERRACE Homes, is out to change that narrative and champion sustainability for families in WA. This industry-leading experiment aims to find out how cutting-edge technology and sustainable design and building principles contribute to affordable housing initiatives. By addressing the initial cost of buying a house, as well as the cost of ongoing bills and running costs, they’re hoping to prove you can help homeowners, while saving the environment.

Sustainable elements built into the home include solar panels, energy batteries, automation technology, rainwater tanks, a water-wise garden, environmentally conscious appliances, and thermal efficiency. These elements combined have earned the home a NaTHERs rating of 9.1 stars, an almost unheard-of rating for energy efficiency.

Built by TERRACE Homes, at Mirvac’s Iluma Private Estate in Bennett Springs, the two-storey home is now being lived in by a family of four. When asked what she’s noticed about living in this innovative new home, Mum Lisa Purcell explains, “The biggest difference this amazing home has made to our lives is how much we save on bills! We also have an app that monitors the usage of the home, so we can constantly keep an eye on what we are using, therefore knowing what we need to adjust to make sure we are always using the home to its full potential.”

Since the experiment started four months ago, the household has been returning a net positive utility usage result, meaning the home generates almost double the amount of energy it consumes each day.

The family’s bi-monthly energy bills, which cost them upwards of $800 in their previous home, now average just $40, allowing Lisa and her husband Jackson to save for their deposit and enjoy their life with their children Monroe and Christian. “We didn’t expect our energy usage would reduce so drastically so quickly, but being able to take the money we would normally spend on bills and save it has been fantastic!” says Lisa.

The Affordability Experiment and the Purcell family play an important role in the future of net-zero housing design concepts. Energy, water, landscaping, technology, automation and finances will continue to be monitored, with the findings forming part of the development plans for future large-scale, energy and cost-efficient developments.