“Quick-fix” upgrades could save low-income households up to $6000 a year

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
4 Min Read

A new analysis reveals low-income earners could slash up to $6,000 a year on their home energy bills with thermal efficiency upgrades, electrification and rooftop solar. 

According to the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), the average household in Victoria could save $4,053 annually on their energy bill and those in apartments $2,276. The savings for NSW residents living in a house could amount to $3,373, and $2,333 for people in apartments. 

People in the ACT could save up to $5,975, annually, according to the new analysis based on Climateworks Centre modelling. Tasmanians could save up to $4,123, South Australians up to $4,123, Queenslanders up to $2,740 and West Australians up to $2,865.

The calculation is based on savings from ‘quick-fix’ home energy upgrades, such as improving insulation and installing electric heat pumps and additional savings from installing rooftop solar. 

Based on cost-saving calculations on the type of dwelling, gas and electricity prices across states and the amount of energy needed to keep homes at a comfortable temperature (20C), the organisation claims five of the 10 electorates that would benefit the most are in South Australia, with the rest across Victoria and Tasmania.

For example, upgrading all households in the lowest 20 per cent income group would produce an annual electorate-wide energy bill saving of $44.3 million for the seat of Grey, followed by $42 million for Barker and $40 million for Mallee.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie AO said that poor energy-performing homes are “costing households thousands of dollars” each year and contributing to climate change. 

“Millions of people on low incomes, including income support, are sweltering through summer and freezing through winter because they cannot afford to keep their homes at a healthy temperature,” she said.

“They are forced to choose between eating, paying for medicine or their energy bill. Recent ACOSS surveys found eight in 10 people became unwell because they could not keep their homes cool during extreme heat. 

“People on low incomes and renters cannot afford or don’t have the choice to do home energy upgrades.

“The government is investing heavily in large-scale energy, industry and manufacturing as part of a clean energy package to tackle the climate crisis. 

“A commensurate funding package to support households and communities to participate in and benefit from the transition is critical to build social licence and ensure no-one is left behind.”

ACOSS urged the federal government to establish a national fund that would subsidise home energy upgrades for low-income housing and work with states to implement minimum energy performance rental standards to curb energy hardship, reduce emissions and make homes resilient to climate change.

Some of the measures suggested by the organisation include zero-interest loans and increased funding earmarked for renewable upgrades dished out to low-income earners until 2031. 

“We are calling on the federal government to inject an additional $2 billion over four years – matched by the states and territories, and topped up by other sources – to accelerate and scale up energy upgrades for low-income housing,” said Dr Goldie.

“The government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity in this budget to reduce energy poverty, improve people’s health and tackle the climate crisis.”

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.