Media release: Groups call for mandatory insulation to make the most of recent EEIS changes

15 August 2019

Joint statement from ACTCOSS, Better Renting and Conservation Council ACT Region.

ACT community organisations have called on the ACT Government to require ceiling insulation in rental properties to complement recent changes to its Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme, announced today.

Under the expansion of the EEIS scheme, households can receive a rebate from their energy retailer to shift from ducted gas heating to energy efficiency electric heating. The scheme has also opened up the option of retailers offering incentives for ceiling insulation as an efficient way to achieve energy efficiency benefits.

However, advocates claim that the changes are insufficient to improve the energy efficiency of private rental properties in the ACT.

Helen Oakey, Executive Director of the Conservation Council ACT Region, welcomed that changes to activities included in the scheme, but said stronger policies are required to ensure that more Canberra houses were insulated.

“It’s good news that the EEIS has expended the range of activities that can be offered by energy retailers, and including insulation is common sense as it delivers immediate improvements in comfort and energy savings.

“Unfortunately, while most home owners don’t think twice about installing ceiling insulation as a basic measure, rental properties often aren’t well insulated.

“While we hope that ActewAGL moves quickly to make insulation available via the scheme, it’s also going to be important for the ACT Government to require landlords to at least install ceiling insulation as a basic requirement of a liveable house in Canberra.

Joel Dignam, Executive Director of Better Renting, said the government should act to enable renters to experience the health benefits of energy efficiency.

“Rental properties in the ACT are much less likely to have ceiling insulation, so this rebate is a good step. Ceiling insulation can make a huge difference for people who rent, cutting their power bills and helping them to have a healthier home. Retrofitting with insulation improves health, leading to reduced hospitalisation rates, decreased medication usage, and less time away from work or school.”

“However, the risk is that private renters will pay for this scheme through their power bills, but be locked out of the benefits due to being at the mercy of their landlords when it comes to accessing the rebates.

“Past experience of the EEIS and other programs suggests that landlords do not voluntarily take up opportunities to improve their properties. To complement the rebates, the ACT Government should require landlords to ensure sure their properties are adequately insulated.”

Susan Helyar, Executive Director of ACTCOSS, said that private renters are being forced to make cost of living compromises due to high power bills.

“Energy prices in the ACT over the past two years have risen well above the national rate, with electricity prices rising by 11% over the past year. Fuel and energy costs account for around 12% of income in the lowest-income households compared to around just 4% of income in the highest-income households. We hear about people cutting back spending on food, prescriptions and school excursions to avoid going into debt on their energy bills.”

“Expanding access to the EEIS will make a difference to many people. The expansion of EEIS offers to people living in public housing is very welcome and should be a priority for early action. ACTCOSS also wants to see increased energy efficiency standards for rental housing so that quality improves.

“Access to no interest loans would also help owner occupiers who do not have access to the capital required to access the incentives in the EEIS scheme.”

Previous participants in the EEIS have described experiencing improved physical or mental health, as well as improved comfort and reduced sick days.

For further information or interviews contact:

Helen Oakey, Executive Director, Conservation Council ACT Region

[email protected]

0402 052 777

Joel Dignam, Executive Director, Better Renting

[email protected]

0402 182 389

Susan Helyar, Executive Director, ACTCOSS

[email protected]

0448 791 987

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