The Australian Council of Social Service is calling for urgent government action to make energy more affordable for low income households, in a new report released today.
The report titled, Energy Efficiency and People on Low Incomes identifies a series of measures to empower households to become active participants in controlling their energy use, becoming more actively engaged in the energy market and reducing energy costs.
“Energy efficiency should be a key policy response to address the impacts of rising energy prices, yet we’ve heard little mention of it in the current political debates about cost of living pressures and energy affordability,” said ACOSS Senior Policy Officer, Andrea Pape.
“ACOSS advocates an energy efficiency policy agenda which includes direct investment in building and fixture upgrades as well as incentives to stimulate private landlord investment in energy efficiency measures.
“These policy proposals are designed to improve the energy efficiency of low income households, including private rental and social housing dwellings. Such investment will improve affordability, climate resilience and health outcomes for current and future building occupants.<
“People on low incomes are particularly feeling the burden of rising energy prices, but they lack the capital for energy efficiency upgrades and are more likely to own inefficient appliances.>
“Those in the rental market are also often unable to improve the energy efficiency of rental properties. This has resulted in a lower incidence of insulation in low income housing and tenanted properties.
“Government and industry programs have to date largely targeted people on low incomes with behaviour change and minor retrofits to help reduce electricity costs. While these programs are beneficial, they need to be complemented by measures that deliver over the long term – particularly investments in building and fixture upgrades.
“Targeted retrofits of the worst performing social housing where health, climate and hardship risks are greatest should be a high priority. We know that those most at risk from heatwaves are low income people, the elderly and people living with disabilities or health issues.
“We need to build the safety and resilience of our housing stock, and we need to start with the most vulnerable households first. This is a sensible approach in the current fiscal environment and we urge all sides of politics to commit to action on this important front,” Ms Pape said.
Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas
Download report: Energy Efficiency and People on Low Incomes
ACOSS proposals to improve energy efficiency and housing standards for people on low incomes:
1. Introduction of landlord tax incentives for energy efficiency measures in rental properties
2. Introduction of energy efficiency standards for rental properties, and mandatory disclosure of energy and water efficiency of all properties at point of sale
3. Additional funding for targeted retrofits for the worst performing and highest risk social housing stock
4. Financial support (microfinance) to help with up-front costs of energy efficiency upgrades
5. Face to face assistance for targeted advice and services