Sustainable households

Save energy at home

The average Victorian household spends over $2,500 on energy bills every year. With some clever switches and upgrades, it’s easy to save energy and reduce your energy bills.

Save on your energy bills:

  • Insulate your roof and walls. Good insulation can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 65%.
  • Switch to energy-saving LED light globes to save up to 80% on your lighting costs.
  • Seal draughts around windows, doors, plumbing, heating units and ducted systems.
  • Use your reverse cycle air conditioner as a heater.
  • Switch off appliances at the wall when not in use. Standby power can cost households hundreds each year.
  • Set your air conditioner thermostat between 18°C and 20°C. Every degree higher can increase your bill by up to 10%.
  • Use a heater timer. Set the timer for 20 minutes before you wake up or arrive home from work.
  • Set your fridge to 3 to 5°C and your freezer at -15 to -18°C.
  • Use curtains or blinds to keep the indoor temperature comfortable. On hot days you’ll keep the heat out and can open windows at night to cool down your home. In winter, open the curtains during the day to let the sun warm the room naturally and close curtains at night to keep the heat in.
  • Wash clothes in full loads with cold water and hang them up to dry.
  • Loan a Power-Mate from any City of Stonnington library to measure your energy use, running costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Home energy assessments

Many Victorian homes have high energy bills simply due to the way the home is built. A home energy assessment can help you understand and improve this performance by rating your home and suggesting improvements.

The Victorian Government’s Scorecard involves an accredited assessor visiting your home to review and rate the energy efficiency of your home’s construction, fixed appliances and other key features like solar.

Prepare your home for winter

Watch our webinar featuring an expert from Renew to help you prepare your home and reduce your energy use during the cooler months.

 

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Renewable energy for your home

Rooftop solar

Access renewable energy and save money on your energy bills with solar. An average solar system can pay for itself through your energy bill savings in 4-6 years. Plus you’ll continue to benefit from the energy you generate over the next 20 years.

Find out if solar is right for you

Speak to an energy expert at the Australian Energy Foundation or Renew to discuss your home, roof space and energy use and determine if solar is right for you.

Visit the Clean Energy Council or CHOICE for more information about choosing a solar system and supplier.

Rebates and financing solar

The Victorian Government is currently offering rebates on the cost of installing solar panels, solar hot water systems and solar battery storage.

You may be eligible for a state government rebate of up to $1,888 if:

  • You’re an owner-occupier with a household income less than $180,000
  • Your home is valued at under $3 million

There are also rebates available to renters that help tenants and landlords share the benefit of solar including interest-free loans up to the value of the rebate.

Find out more and apply on the Solar Victoria website.

GreenPower

GreenPower is a federal government scheme that allows households and businesses to purchase clean, renewable energy from an electricity retailer. The electricity retailer will add certified renewable energy to the grid on your behalf.

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Saving water

Adopting water efficiently principles in your home has many benefits. It will:

  • lower your water bills
  • give you an independent water supply
  • help your garden survive through low periods of rain
  • reduce sewage discharged to rivers and the oceans.

Here are some ways you can save water at home:

Install a rainwater tank

Using rainwater to water your garden can reduce the use of scheme water by up to 25 per cent, and is preserving our precious resource.

In line with advice from Melbourne Water, due to potential water quality issues we do not support drinking rainwater tank water in urban areas.

Things to consider before installing a rainwater tank

  • Check your drainage - ensure there is adequate drainage that won’t cause any issues for neighbouring properties. The tank needs an overflow pipe that matches the size of the inlet, and can return excess stormwater to the property drain.
  • Check building requirements - domestic rainwater tanks don’t require a building permit but you should consider where they are placed to ensure there are no issues with neighbours or local amenities.
  • Estimate your water use - consider what the water will be used for and the volume needed.
  • Planning conditions - in most cases a planning permit is not required to install a domestic rainwater tank with a capacity of 4,500 litres or less.

 To check if you need a planning permit call our Planning Services team on 8290 1333

Greywater treatment systems

Greywater is all non-toilet household waste water, such as water from washing machines, showers and laundry sinks.

It can be a good water resource in dry periods however, if misused, can carry health and environmental risks.

Kitchen and toilet water is not allowed to enter a greywater system and greywater cannot be used for drinking purposes. However, you can use greywater on your property to replace scheme water for toilet flushing and garden watering.

We support water conservation methods and believe greywater can be reused effectively and safely in households by following these few simple dos and don'ts.

Greywater Dos Greywater Don'ts
DO use greywater from baths, showers, hand basins and washing machines (preferably the final rinse water) DON'T water vegetable gardens with greywater if the vegetables are to be eaten raw
DO use greywater on the garden DON'T use greywater that might have faecal contamination, such as water from washing nappies
DO alternate the areas of your garden you water - only apply enough water for the soil to absorb DON'T use greywater from the kitchen (including from dishwashers)
DO wash your hands after watering your garden with greywater DON'T store greywater for more than 24 hours

DON'T let children or pets drink or play with greywater

DON'T allow greywater to leave your property or enter stormwater systems

DON'T use greywater during wet or rainy periods

DON'T use greywater if it’s smelly or your plants aren’t looking healthy

Before considering a greywater system for your home please refer to information on the EPA Victoria website.

Permanent installations require EPA Victoria approval and should also be discussed with your local water retailer - South East Water or Yarra Valley Water. 

Do you need a permit?

Before installing a greywater system please confirm permit requirements with our Environmental Health team on 8290 1333.

Steps to obtaining a permit

Step 1 - Confirm your chosen greywater treatment system is on the list of EPA certified systems.
Step 2 - Complete a Domestic Greywater Treatment System(DOC, 76KB) application
Step 3 - Before installing the system, arrange a preliminary site inspection with one of our environmental health officers.
Step 4 - Following installation, arrange a final inspection with one of our environmental health officers.

A permit will only be issued if all site inspections have been completed.

Important:  Only greywater systems with a current Certificate of Approval from the EPA will be permitted. Irrigation systems must be designed and installed in compliance with EPA Certificate of Approval CA1.5/08. The system must not be constructed until a 'permit to install' has been issued. The system must not be used until a 'permit to use' has been issued.

If you have any questions please contact our Environmental Health team on 8290 1333.

Build a raingarden

A raingarden is just like a regular garden but is positioned so that it catches rainwater from hard surfaces such as rooftops, paths or roads. 

We have installed 47 raingardens across the city to improve the quality of stormwater entering our waterways and help reduce the impacts of flooding.

We also support residents who would like to build a raingarden at home.

Read our Green Blue Infrastructure Manual(PDF, 12MB) to learn how you can improve stormwater quality by installing raingardens, tree pits, permeable pavements and structural soils.

For tips on how to build a raingarden visit the Melbourne Water website, email our Environment team or call 8290 1333.

Living with possums

Stonnington is home to two varieties of possum - the Common Brushtail Possum and the Common Ringtail Possum.

While living with possums isn’t always easy, it is possible to live in harmony in our shared urban spaces.

Please note: Possums are protected by law, and you have a legal obligation to deal with possums humanely. Possums can be trapped in order to remove them from a roof, but must be released on the same property within 50 metres of the capture site.

One of a possum's biggest challenges is finding shelter and nesting sites, and the Brushtail possum will often be found seeking shelter in our roof spaces and wall cavities. Ringtail possums will rarely enter a roof, instead preferring to build a shelter in dense foliage metres off the ground.

If possums are a nuisance at your house visit the DELWP website or Sustainable Gardening Australia website for tips on managing possums.

Injured possums

If you find an injured possum please call Wildlife Victoria on toll free 1300 094 535.

You can also email the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning or call them on 136 186.

Sustainable Gardening

With a little planning, it’s easy to create a beautiful garden that suits our climate, attracts local wildlife, enhances biodiversity and provides health and wellbeing benefits to you and your family.

Tips for creating a sustainable garden:

  • plant indigenous plants (local to Melbourne)
  • don't leave pet food outside for foxes or Indian Myna birds
  • install a nesting box for a feathery friend
  • keep cats inside and only let dogs off-leash in specified areas
  • pull out weeds
  • use natural alternatives to synthetic chemicals, like worm castings or compost.  

Read Sustainable Gardening in Stonnington(PDF, 8MB) and visit the Sustainable Gardening Australia website for tips on sustainable garden design.

Backyard Biodiversity

Help provide habitat for our local plants and animals by creating a wildlife haven on your balcony or in your backyard. By providing birds and animals with food, nesting, shelter and water, they’ll be drawn to your garden and add a whole range of benefits to both your garden and the wider community.  

How to make your garden bird-friendly 

  1. Create a multi-layered habitat of ground covers and small and medium shrubs.
  2. Plant their favourite foods, such as nectar from native flowers and native grass seeds.
  3. Put in a bird-bath or pond.
  4. Create dense habitat using prickly shrubs such as Acacia paradoxa.(PDF, 236KB)

Visit the Birds in Backyards website for more tips on designing a garden for birds.

Green roofs, walls and facades

Visit the Growing Green Guide website to learn how to create and maintain quality green roofs, walls and facades.

My Smart Garden

My Smart Garden is a free sustainable gardening program to help you grow food and transform your outdoor space (yards, balconies or pots) into a beautiful, productive and resilient garden all year-round. 

  • Free online workshops
  • Monthly newsletter
  • Regular competitions
  • Connection with fellow gardeners

Complete the joining form to join the program.

My Smart Garden is supported by the City of Stonnington along with Moonee Valley City Council, Hobsons Bay City Council, City of Maribyrnong, Wyndham City Council and City of Brimbank.

Sustainable gardening webinars

In May and June 2020 we delivered a series of webinars aimed at supporting our community to live sustainably and reduce their impact during lockdown.

Learn about the basics of growing food at home, maintaining healthy soil, propagating plants, managing garden pests and keeping backyard chickens.

Grow food at home with Kat Lavers

In this webinar, Kat Lavers, permaculture designer and educator, covers the need-to-know basics of starting up a garden including garden design, soil, water, plants and pest management.

Love your soil with Kat Lavers

In this webinar we learn how soil is key to a healthy and productive garden. Find out about soil types, the role of microbes, fungi and invertebrates and how to improve the health of your soil using free or low-cost resources.

Propagate plants with Kat Lavers

In this webinar we learn about the most sustainable way to grow your garden - from what you already have with permaculture designer and educator, Kat Lavers.

Learn how propagation works, the best plants to work with and the tools and equipment you’ll need.

 

Manage garden pests with Kat Lavers

In this webinar find out how to manage pests and disease in your garden without harming the environment with permaculture designer and educator, Kat Lavers.

Learn about common pests and diseases, how to diagnose pest problems and cheap, safe and effective management techniques.

Keep Happy Healthy Backyard Chooks with Jessamy Miller

In this webinar, learn everything you need to know about keeping healthy, happy and productive chooks with Jessamy Miller, ABC Organic Gardener writer and chook expert and enthusiast.

Learn about breeds, space and housing, diet and council regulations.

Growing food

Growing your own food at home is a fantastic way to increase your physical activity, improve your mental wellbeing, your diet and nutrition, and build a greater connection with the local community through a common activity and purpose.

Read Stonnington Home Harvest(PDF, 6MB) for advice on planning, planting and maintaining your own home food garden.

If you would like to grow your own food but don't have the space, the Armadale Baptist Church Community Garden on Kooyong Road, Armadale could be the answer. Follow them on Facebook or contact the committee at abccommunitygarden@gmail.com.

 

Keeping poultry

To keep chickens, quails or other poultry in Stonnington you much first obtain a Poultry Permit.

Before considering chickens for your backyard we recommend you read the Victorian Government's Department of Health and Human Services Keeping backyard chickens - What you need to know(PDF, 191KB) and our fact sheet Keeping poultry(DOC, 38KB) 

The permit is free and is needed to ensure poultry are kept in a safe and humane manner, and neighbours are aware and approve of the situation. Before a permit is issued an inspection of your property and the poultry coop must be completed.

Apply online

For more information call our Animal Management team on 8290 1333.

Keeping bees

Residents are allowed to keep two recreational beehives. To keep more than two hives you must register as an beekeeper with Agriculture Victoria.

For hobby beekeeping information including tips on getting started, tools and protective equipment visit the Agriculture Victoria website.

For more advice and support, join a local beekeeping group such as the Victorian Apiarists' Association or The Beekeepers Club.

Recycling food waste

Food waste makes up over a third of the average garbage bin in Stonnington. When this rots in landfill it produces methane – a powerful greenhouse gas and big contributor to climate change.

Food waste recycling keeps your food scraps out of landfill by using the material to produce compost, helping our farmers grow healthy crops.

To find out what happens to your food and green waste after it's picked up, visit the Back to Earth Initiative.

Worm farms and composting

Worm farming and composting is a great way to minimise food waste by turning your food scraps into nutrient rich plant food for your garden.

We offer residents 40 per cent off the cost of worm farms, bokashi bins and compost bins (including delivery).

Visit the Compost Revolution website to purchase a discounted worm farm, bokashi bin or compost bin. 

Apartment composting

If you live in an apartment and want to reduce waste going to landfill, join our Apartment Composting Program which supports owners’ corporations to set up communal worm farms or compost bins at apartment buildings.

The program is also a great way to get to know your neighbours and improve local gardens and the broader environment. 

How we can help you get started

To get you on the road to composting success, we provide:

  • 40 per cent off the cost of Hungry Bin worm farms and Green Cone solar composters (discounts available for up to three composting systems per apartment building)
  • Free resident workshop delivered online or at the apartments
  • Free kitchen caddies
  • Information and support materials to help your worm farm or compost bin succeed.

We discount the cost by 40 per cent, for up to three composting systems per apartment building (including worms for the Hungry Bin worm farms), and recommend at least one composting system for every 10 apartments.

The owners' corporation is responsible for paying the balance of the composting system, plus the cost of installing the system and any signage.  Signage will be provided by us.

To check the price of the different systems visit the Compost Revolution website.

Choose a system that's right for your apartment building

The first thing you need to do is decide on a composting system and find somewhere within the complex to install the system.

Hungry Bin worm farm

About the Hungry Bin worm farm: 

  • Self contained system that must be installed on a stable surface, in the shade.

  • Approximately the size of a large wheelie bin.

  • Infrequent emptying is required - by removing castings at the bottom of the worm farm.

  • Produces liquid ‘worm tea’ which can be diluted and used as a plant fertiliser.

  • Processes up to 2kg of food scraps per day.

  • Can be fed with a range of food scraps - but no citrus, onions or bread.

Green Cone solar composter

About the Green Cone solar composter:

  • Cone shaped system standing 110cm above ground with a base diameter of 38cm.

  • Needs to be partially buried in a sunny patch of soil or grass (up to a depth of 42cm).

  • Needs to be professionally installed. Please follow manufacturer’s instructions and contact Dial before you dig first.

  • Low maintenance - no need to turn or empty.

  • Takes a large range of food scraps - including citrus, onions and bread.

 

How to apply

  1. Contact your owners’ corporation and tell them you would like to join the Apartment Composting Program, and that you will be the champion resident.
  2. Find neighbours willing to participate in the program, noting that to join the program at least 30 per cent of apartment residents (a minimum of three) must indicate a willingness to participate.
  3. Use our template letter to engage with your neighbours and collect their signatures. Download Apartment Composting letter template(DOC, 32KB) .
  4. Ask the owners’ corporation to complete a the online Apartment Composting Program application.

After you apply

After we receive the application from the owners' corporation:

  1. The owners’ corporation will receive an email from our partner, Compost Revolution, with a link to order the composting units.
  2. When the owners’ corporation orders and pays for the bins (at the discounted price), the units will be delivered to your property.
  3. It is the owners' corporation's responsibility to arrange installation.
  4. Once the units have been installed the owners' corporation needs to send us a photo of their location.
  5. A Council officer will then contact the resident champion to arrange a visit and deliver an information pack, including instructions on how to manage the new composting system.
  6. Finally, our contractor will contact the resident champion to organise a resident training workshop. All residents who complete the training are eligible for a free kitchen caddy.

Useful information

View the Apartment Composting Program Fact Sheet(PDF, 142KB)  

For more information please email our Environment team or call 82980 1333.