KPMG has released its report The rise of energy poverty in Australia, drawing on datasets from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to give insight on an issue that affects all Australians, but has greatest impact on lower income households.
The report identifies ‘the real victims of energy poverty are large families on low incomes’, with the ABS Household Expenditure Survey calculating $15.57 is spent per person, per week, on energy for households in the lowest income quintile. Energy costs disproportionally impact the budget of low income households, particularly on health, well-being and the capacity to break the cycle of disadvantage.
The report further outlines that of the 42,000 large, low-income households in the Australian community most exposed to energy poverty:
- 24,000 are renting
- 10,100 low-income, large-family households are based in Sydney
- Concentration is found in the southwest areas of Liverpool and Fairfield.
Report co-author Cassandra Hogan calls for ‘the government, industry and the consumer sector to work together to provide a better way forward’ with a policy focus on vulnerable consumers.
As a leading community housing provider, SGCH actively partners to implement initiatives that reduce energy consumption in the low-moderate income households we serve. To achieve this, we are investing into improving the energy efficiency of the homes we develop and own.
First partnering in 2015, SGCH and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) developed an innovative financing approach to provide new environmentally sustainable, affordable homes across Sydney. Since the initial arrangement, CEFC has committed up to $170 million to help SGCH to deliver approximately 500 high-performing energy efficient homes.
SGCH is also using its financing arrangement with CEFC, coupled with support from the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), to retrofit 1,400 of our existing properties in metropolitan Sydney, delivering energy-efficient measures to low income households. We expect the retrofit program to collectively reduce energy bills by about $800,000 every year. That’s an average of $570 dollars per property.
The upgrades include new rooftop solar panels, installing ceiling insulation, replacing electric water heaters with heat pump hot water systems, installing LED lights, and, for new building projects, upgrading our sustainability specifications.
These initiatives will help reduce the energy consumption in the households we serve. It is not the silver bullet but together with supply side initiatives from government and the market, we hope to see a significant reduction in energy poverty.