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Government WA

Energy efficient social housing would slash millions off power bills

Shelter WA 2 mins read

New analysis by Shelter WA reveals the Cook Government could wipe as much as $50 million off the energy bills of all social housing renters every year by making homes energy efficient.

The peak body for community housing and homelessness services is calling on the government to retrofit all WA’s 42,000 social housing dwellings by 2030, with prioritisation to remote communities and areas with extremely hot climate conditions. 

The ‘Healthy Homes’ retrofit package would see a rollout of ceiling fans, flyscreens, curtains, insulation, draught sealing, reverse cycle air conditioners, efficient electric hot water systems and solar panels. 

Shelter WA is also calling for individual or community battery systems to be installed in extreme climate zones, as well as an energy efficiency audit program of all social housing. 

An energy efficiency retrofit of social housing could save tenants between about $780 and $1,500 per year on energy bills, according to previous analysis commissioned by ACOSS.

Shelter WA chief executive Kath Snell said the package would benefit households most in need as a deep and permanent cost-of-living measure. 

“From Kununurra to Karratha, Carnarvon to Kalgoorlie, and even in the urban heat islands of Perth’s metropolitan areas, many social housing tenants are sweltering through extreme heats with no air conditioners or ceiling fans, and struggling to afford to pay the power bills that they have racked up from using inefficient cooling systems,” Ms Snell said.

“Likewise, in many parts of the state, from Bunbury to Bremer Bay, social housing tenants struggle to keep their poorly insulated homes warm efficiently during our cold winters.

“Our Healthy Homes package would combat energy poverty in WA. People are paying a huge portion of their income on energy bills and are in the most energy inefficient homes. 

“We know having a comfortable, energy efficient home is good for the health, happiness and wallets of renters. 

“An extensive energy efficiency retrofit of WA’s social housing is one of the lowest cost, highest impact opportunities to reduce the cost of living, lift living standards for renters, and decarbonise our communities. 

“In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, the government would get a better return on investment and create a greater legacy if it delivers budget measures that reduce expensive energy bills permanently, more so than through one-off rebates.  

“By making social housing more energy efficient, the Cook Government can build upon previous initiatives including the Smart Energy for Social Housing pilot, and installation of waterwise fixtures in public housing. 

“This will complement the government’s plan to set minimum standards for rental homes, and also help deliver its commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions. This is a win-win for people and the environment." 

Shelter WA is calling for:

  • A statewide “Healthy Homes” energy efficiency retrofit of all social housing in WA, costing $152 million over three years for the first 10,000 public housing properties, and $486.4 million for the remaining 32,000 public and community housing dwellings by 2030.

Read more about this pre-budget ask here.

For interviews, Kath Snell is available between 8.30am and 10.30am, Wednesday 13 March. 

Media contact: Sofie Wainwright 0403 920 301 

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