The report, entitled Energy Efficiency and People on Low Incomes, identifies measures to empower households to become active participants in controlling their energy use as well as becoming more involved 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 Andrea Pape, ACOSS Senior Policy Officer. “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.”
Ms Pape added that the policy proposals are designed to improve energy efficiency in low income households including both private rental and social housing. Investment will improve affordability, climate resilience and health outcomes for current and future occupants.
People on low incomes in Australia, as in many other countries around the world, are especially prone to the burden of energy price rises but they lack the capital investment required to upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes and are also more likely to own inefficient appliances. This has resulted in a lower incidence of measures such as insulation in low income housing and tenanted properties. While government programmes have been beneficial, they also need to be complemented by measures that deliver energy efficiency over the long term, particularly with regard to 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” continued Ms Pape. “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.”
ACOSS proposals include the introduction of landlord tax incentives for energy efficiency measures in rental properties, the introduction of energy efficiency standards for rental properties along with mandatory disclosure of energy and water efficiency of all properties at point of sale, additional funding for targeted retrofits for the worst performing and highest risk social housing stock and financial support to help low income households afford the up-front costs of energy efficiency upgrades.