Home upgrades may save Australians thousands on energy

Australians could slash their energy bill by thousands per year with quick-fix home upgrades and rooftop solar power, which could hugely benefit those on low incomes.

Research commissioned by the Australian Council of Social Service revealed improvements such as upgrading insulation, installing electric heat pumps and savings from installing rooftop solar would put downward pressure on power bills across the country as they would improve energy efficiency and also help the environment by reducing emissions.

Australians living in the ACT could save nearly $6000 per year, Tasmanians and South Australians more than $4000, and Queenslanders and West Australians nearly $3000.

Victorians living in apartments would cut their energy costs by almost $2300 while the average household would save about $4000.

Savings for people living in NSW houses could amount to roughly $3400 and $2300 for those in apartments.

The council's chief executive Cassandra Goldie says these upgrades would be a significant boon for Australians on lower incomes.

Cassandra Goldie at a press conference.
Australian Council of Social Services CEO Cassandra Goldie wants money invested in energy upgrades. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

"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," Dr Goldie said.

"They are forced to choose between eating, paying for medicine or their energy bill."

She has urged the federal and state government to earmark billions to help accelerate and scale-up energy upgrades for low-income housing at the May budget.

This would keep homes at a comfortable temperature, curb energy hardship, reduce emissions and help safeguard homes from the impacts of climate change, Dr Goldie said.

Upgrading all households in the lowest 20 per cent of Australian incomes would help would produce energy bill savings of $40 million in some electorates, particularly those in SA.

"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," Dr Goldie said.

Independent MP Allegra Spender has backed similar measures for apartment dwellers more broadly, noting many were at particular disadvantage because they could not install solar panels.

Her suggestions include establishing a national advisory service to help apartment owners navigate solar power installation and incentivising landlords to invest in energy efficient appliances.

The federal government has committed more than $1 billion to re-industrialising the Australian economy for renewables manufacturing as the nation transitions toward net-zero emissions.

Dr Goldie said a national fund for home energy upgrades could complement its strategy.

"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," she said.