Improving the energy efficiency of homes is an important way to address poverty by reducing people’s energy bills and the broader costs associated with energy in Western Australia.
It forms an essential part of responding to climate change.
Low-income households spend disproportionately more of their income on electricity, with 10 per cent of low-income households spending more than 10% of their disposable income on electricity, compared to an average of 4% of spending for the average household.
Research shows that lower income earners are more likely to be renters, with 40% of the lowest income households in Perth renting either privately or from the State Government. The same research shows that rental properties are far less likely to be equipped with solar power or solar hot water, reflecting the lack of regulation or financial incentives for landlords to invest in home power or thermal generation.
Tenants living in social housing are disproportionately affected by increases in power and utility bills but are the least able to enjoy the benefits of energy efficiency, comfort and sustainability of their homes. In addition to this, a lower proportion of social housing tenants in WA have their need for thermal comfort met by their current home (66%), which is particularly low among Indigenous households and households with children.
The benefits of investing in improving energy efficiency of homes is significant. However, without government intervention to address the market failures, the cost of inefficient homes will continue to fall dis-proportionally on low-income and disadvantaged households who are most in need.