Since the home forms a central and prominent component of our lives, the quality of the housing structure and appliances within the home will thus partly reflect the quality of our lives. To this end, this paper presents information collected as part of a broader project, the Koorie Energy Efficiency Project (KEEP) which was one of 20 piloted national projects funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Low Income Energy Efficiency Program.
Based on data collected from 867 Aboriginal households in Victoria from 2013-2015, it is revealed that most homes are rented (86%) and constructed more than 20 years ago (67%). Housing constructed more than 10 years ago is at risk of not being energy efficient and typically requires extra work to be done on the home itself to ensure it is more energy efficient. However, this appears to be rarely practiced by landlords. For example, 36% of Aboriginal householders report having no insulation in their homes, and although 60% report having ceiling insulation, only 19% report having wall insulation. Adequate insulation ensures heat is retained during winter, and coolness is retained during summer, thus reducing the heating/cooling energy burden. With low insulation levels, Aboriginal tenants have little choice but to increase their energy use, or live in sub-optimal thermal comfort conditions.
Furthermore, fixed appliances that typically come with the home also impact on the quality of home life possible. For example, 12% of Aboriginal households report having no cooking appliance (no oven and no stove), while 13% report having no fixed heating appliance. Since Victoria is one of the coldest states in Australia in terms of external temperatures, having no heating appliance is problematic and could be linked to subsequent health issues.
These findings attest to the limited capacity of Aboriginal householders to genuinely improve their energy efficiency when they struggle by living in inefficient housing structures, where being tenants, they are unable to make many improvements to the home itself, and are invariably stuck with low energy efficient fixed appliances or worse, none at all, so that running small energy hungry appliances becomes the only viable alternative.