Inefficient homes are unhealthy, expensive to run and vulnerable to extreme weather. Clear solutions exist, but low-income households and renters need support to access them.

Too many Australians live in energy-inefficient homes. Rooftop solar and energy efficiency upgrades (such as efficient hot water systems, heating and cooling) can make these homes healthier and less costly to run. However, many low-income households face financial and information barriers to improving their homes.

To make homes healthier and more comfortable, Australian governments need to act.

Introduce minimum efficiency standards for rental properties

Many rented homes are inefficient and neither landlords nor renters generally have an incentive to improve them. Requiring landlords to ensure rented homes meet minimum standards for energy efficiency would systematically improve people’s health, cost of living and the quality of housing in Australia.

Support low-income households to access energy efficiency and solar upgrades

Australian governments should assist renters, those in public housing and home-owners to upgrade their homes, including financial assistance to upgrade high-cost, inefficient fixtures, such as hot water systems, heating and cooling, and to install solar panels.

Gary (pictured above) is on a pension and couldn’t afford a solar power system. The Brotherhood’s Home Energy Assist Affordable Retrofits pilot project enabled him to install solar panels, which he says will dramatically cut his energy bills.

More of our work is available by viewing our Social Policy and Research Centre climate change and energy topic page .

Three wind turbines in a field

Innovative trials

Home Energy Assist: Affordable Retrofits
Tailored advice and subsidised energy efficiency upgrades to 88 low-income households

Your Sustainable Home
A partnership with the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation

Clean Energy for All
Installation of subsidised solar panels at social housing sites in Melbourne

Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard,
Free home energy assessments to 200 vulnerable households

A bank of solar arrays and sky


Featured on the ABC radio Life Matters program, "Low-income renters and energy affordability."
Duration: 18min 22sec.
Broadcast: Tue 28 Aug 2018, 9:06am

Reports and submissions

By Sangeetha Chandrashekeran, Julia de Bruyn, David Bryant and Damian Sullivan 2023

Our study explores the views of lower-income households about moving from gas to electricity as home energy sources, the barriers they face, and the implications for policy to achieve equitable solutions.

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By Australian Council of Social Service and Brotherhood of St. Laurence 2019

This report models policies that can reduce energy poverty and improve access to affordable, clean energy.

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By Australian Council of Social Service and Brotherhood of St. Laurence 2018

Which Australians are hardest hit by high energy prices?

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By Australian Council of Social Service and Brotherhood of St. Laurence 2018

Certainty in climate change and energy policy can lower emissions and reduce energy prices, taking the pressure off energy-stressed households.

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By Damian Sullivan with others 2017

Installing an efficient hot water system might reduce energy usage costs and greenhouse gas emissions, but may be too expensive or too daunting for low-income households.

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