EmPowering Newcastle


EmPowering Homes

Your home is one of the largest areas that you can minimise your impact on the climate, regardless if you live in a house or an apartment, own your own house, or rent. 

Adopting the principles of passive solar design, such as installing insulation and providing shading, can create a low energy and comfortable home. The YourHome guide, published by the Australian Government, is a technical manual and website that provides information on sustainable building and design practices. 

We are responsible for managing Newcastle's Development Control Plan (DCP), the design guidelines for our city. We regularly update the DCP for new developments and alterations to encourage environmentally sustainable design. We also promote ongoing improvement to the NSW Government's BASIX (sustainability standards for residential developments) as well as sustainability standards for non-residential development.  

The cheapest energy is the energy you don't use! Improving the energy efficiency of your home will both save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Did you know that: 

  • Lighting constitutes 8-15% of average Australian household electricity. Switching to LEDs can significantly reduce energy usage. 

  • Hot water – new technology heat pump systems can be three times more energy efficient than conventional electric resistance water heaters.  

  • Heating and cooling - choosing an energy efficient air conditioning system can help you reduce your energy use. If you’re upgrading, you can also expect to see long-term savings on your electricity bills. 

  • Cooking - induction cooktops are more energy efficient than gas or ceramic cooktops due to their ability to heat cookware directly. 

  • Green Power is 100% renewable electricity that households can purchase to reduce greenhouse emissions and support renewable energy projects.     

If you live in an apartment through strata ownership, you may find common areas with lighting and equipment, gyms and swimming pools wasting energy and money through inefficiency. An energy assessment could help identify ways in which your building can become more energy efficient.  

The NSW Government Energy Savings Scheme regularly offers incentives to help you improve the efficiency of your air conditioning, swimming pool pump, hot water system and lighting.  

Getting off gas is a great way to cut your household’s power bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the health impacts associated with gas.  Gas is a fossil fuel, with residential gas currently 2% of national greenhouse gas emissions. A recent Climate Council analysis indicates households can make average savings of over $1,000 a year across Australia by switching from gas appliances to the most efficient electric alternatives. Read their guide on how to get off gas
Solar power allows you to generate free renewable energy from your roof. Battery storage allows the user to store energy generated by solar and use that energy when required or sell to the grid when the price is right. This solar and battery sizing guide helps people calculate their solar and battery system needs and payback periods.
Swimming pools are a big energy user. For homes with a swimming pool, the pool pump can be one of the largest users of electricity, accounting for up to 18% of an electricity bill.  The NSW Government currently offers a rebate on pool pump upgrades.  

If you live in a rental property or apartment building managed by strata, there are several ways to lower your greenhouse emissions and save on costs: 

  • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) - this is an arrangement in which a solar service provider designs, builds, owns, operates, monitors, and maintains a photovoltaic (PV) system, and a customer agrees to site the system on its roof or elsewhere on its property and purchase the system's electric output from the solar services provider for a predetermined period and price.  Community groups can also leverage community funding to install large scale solar on a host’s property and implement PPA agreements with the host. 

  • Virtual Power Plant (VPPs) - this is a process where the energy stored in residential batteries is aggregated and export into the grid to keep the network stable and maximise returns. They can provide better returns on your investment by storing your energy when network prices are low and selling it when prices are high. 

  • Rental energy support - Waverley Council has put together a webinar on "investment benefits for greener landlords" , which shows how landlords and tenants can benefit from installing energy saving devices and solar on rental houses.  

EmPowering Communities

Community groups around Australia and in Newcastle are harnessing their collective energy to take on the shift to renewable energy, delivering local energy projects with outstanding socioeconomic and environmental benefits 

This may be through existing climate action groupsbanding together in your community and or being part of a community energy project 

Newcastle has a number of community groups focused on climate change action: 

  • Newcastle Energy Reduction Plan (NERP) is an initiative put together by Climate Action Newcastle and Newcastle Climate Change Response with the support of City of Newcastle, to develop a plan to reduce Newcastle's greenhouse gas emissions from the residential, waste, transport, commercial and industrial sectors. 
  • Climate Action Newcastle (CAN) is a community based, not for profit group of volunteers whose goal is to raise awareness and run projects focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Newcastle.  
  • Newcastle Climate Change Response (NCCR) is a Newcastle based climate change awareness and action group. 
  • University of Newcastle student environment club and other associated student bodies are working within the university and community to improve environmental outcomes 
  • Clean Energy Association of Newcastle and Surrounds (CLEANaS) is dedicated to driving the uptake of clean energy generation and use and to facilitate a sustainable transition away from fossil fuels.
  • Beyond Zero Emissions – is an independent think tank providing industry, political decision-makers, and regional communities solutions to accelerate Australia's shift to a zero-emissions economy. 

Electrify 2297 is a group of residents from the suburb of Tighes Hill whose aim is to encourage and facilitate the electrification of their homes. They are working closely to the principles established by Electrify 2515 and ReWiring Australia who are progressing all electric suburbs. 

Activities that Electrify 2515 and others have done include: 

  • Induction cooking demonstrations 
  • Educational workshops and information sessions 
  • Electric vehicle test drives and open days 
  • In-home advisory services or business partnerships 
  • Working with councils for infrastructure such as solar on community buildings and EV charging 
  • Bulk buys of solar panels and electric heat pumps 
  • Community surveys and resources 

Community energy is where a community group initiates, develops, operates and benefits from a renewable energy resource or an energy efficiency initiative.  

Community energy projects are especially important for those who can't install solar on their own home but want to benefit from the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy.  

Community Batteries are large storage systems sized to accommodate the energy needs of a group. They have the ability to encourage increased solar uptake, provide energy security and reduce costs. The Australian Government is providing grants to encourage the uptake of community batteries. 

A solar garden is a solar array, generally near a population centre that can benefit community members. Residents can purchase ownership of the solar array, of which the electricity generated is then credited to their electricity bill. With a solar garden, any electricity customer can participate in and benefit from renewable energy. The solar panels are located off-site, but the household receives a financial outcome on their bill, which is a bit like having solar on their own roof.  

Read a report from the Community Power Agency on how community energy projects have been growing in Australia.  

EmPowering Transport

Enabling a city to mode shift to walking, cycling and public transport, supported by electric vehicles (charged by renewables), is the best way we can reduce transport related emissions in Newcastle. 

What impacts transport emissions in the city

Read more about how City of Newcastle is promoting and facilitating electric and low emissions transport: 

EmPowering Business

Businesses, both commercial and industrial, stand to benefit from significant cost-savings and greenhouse gas emission reduction opportunities through planning and implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives: 

  • The Clean Energy Council provide an extensive guide and video to support businesses considering installing solar. 

  • The Energy Savings Scheme (ESS) provides NSW businesses with financial incentives to invest in projects which will reduce their energy consumption. Incentives are available to install new equipment or modify a current system. 

  • Climate Active is empowering Australians to take climate action, now and for the future. Driven by certified members and activated by the community, this is a unique government-backed program that enables all levels of Australian society to work together to do their bit.

  • Responsible cafes is one of Australia’s most innovative, popular and fastest-growing programs actively engaging cafes, councils and the community to improve on waste management and energy efficiency. They work with over 5,000 cafes to act and drive more impact in the hospitality industry.