New research shows Australians want more efficient housing  

A majority of Australians say the homes they live in are not performing well when it comes to energy efficiency, with most households favouring significant improvements to the nation’s housing stock as energy prices continue to rise. 

A new report commissioned by Energy Consumers Australia and Renew finds strong support for a major boost to the quality and energy efficiency of Australian houses and apartments.  The research also makes clear that Australians are looking for help to understand what actions they can take to make their homes more comfortable and lower their energy bills.   

“Homes that are closer to the energy efficiency of tents than more recent standards are less healthy to live in and much more expensive to heat and cool” Energy Consumers Australia CEO Lynne Gallagher said. 

“We need to help people identify what low-cost improvements they can make in the short-term,  but also to overcome the barriers to future proofing their homes to adapt to a changing climate, where extreme heat and weather events will be more common”. 

According to the report, which captures the views of homeowners, renters, landlords and builders, only 48% of respondents described the condition of their home as ‘good’.  These results were even worse among renters (35%) and those experiencing financial vulnerability (33%). 

Renew CEO Fiona Gray said the research showed strong support for reforms to improve the comfort and liveability of Australian homes. 

“The idea that Australians don’t value or care about improving the energy efficiency of their housing needs to be put in the bin and wheeled out to the kerb,” she said. “At a time when hip-pocket concerns are skyrocketing, we can see people making the clear connection to the quality of their home and the cost of living in it.”  

The report finds: 

  • Most Australians support incentives for homeowners and landlords to make improvements to their properties that improve energy efficiency (75%) and increasing minimum efficiency standards for home renovations (70%). 
  • 70% support the introduction of minimum energy efficiency standards for rental properties. 
  • 66% support making it compulsory to disclose the energy efficiency of a home when a home is sold or leased, to ensure that the people planning to live in it understand the likely running costs. 

“These numbers show that Australians want action in these areas and see the value of targeted programs to increase the quality of our homes,” Ms Gallagher said.  

Energy Consumers Australia and Renew said the Government’s National Energy Performance Strategy provides an opportunity to break down the barriers Australians are facing. 

Those included real concern about the effect of rising power bills and other cost of living increases, with some seeing energy efficiency as a luxury, rather than a way to manage those costs. 

Climate change was cited as a major reason to support reforms, with people wanting to live sustainably – to do their bit – but weren’t confident they know much about energy efficiency, and only a small percentage of respondents were actively planning action. 

People also expressed concern about housing affordability generally, and shortage of building supplies and skilled tradesman.  They wanted reforms that didn’t add more red tape to new builds or major renovations.   

The research also points to the need for targeted policies for private rental homes – tenants were more likely to live in poor quality properties but are concerned about actions that drive up rents further.  Landlords didn’t want more regulatory complexity and were also worried about how they could afford improvements. 

“These are legitimate concerns and they will need to be addressed by governments in the coming period,” Ms Gallagher said. 

“We know that Australians want this. We know it offers huge benefits for their health and their bank accounts at a time when energy prices are their number one concern. And we know that they see it as the responsibility of governments to help them make the necessary changes.” 

“It’s time for energy efficient housing and living to be a major topic of conversation around the kitchen table and the Cabinet table. To get to a clean energy future that is affordable for all Australians we are going to have to make big changes in this area. We need to start now.” 

Read the full report from SEC Newgate.