Getting the most bang for your energy buck can be a matter of real importance, particularly when there aren’t too many bucks. The South East Councils Climate Change Alliance set out to discover effective ways to implement energy efficiency in low-income households in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The study recruited and supported 320 householders from 6 local councils who were receiving Home and Community Care services. Households were audited and energy use data collected to record energy use. The majority of the homes were old and owner occupied. They were inefficiently designed or built, or poorly maintained.
Providing retrofits plus behaviour change support achieved a 10% improvement in energy efficiency and improved indoor temperatures by 1.6oC. Retrofitting improved energy efficiency by 7% and winter indoor temperatures by 1.9oC. Providing behaviour change support alone did not produce significant results.
Low income householders face barriers to improving energy efficiency including poor physical and/or mental health. They may have acute health conditions, limited knowledge of energy efficiency, limited English and often need approval from landlords to undertake work on the home.
Protecting health, saving money and mitigating climate risk is what you get when you improve energy efficiency in low income households.