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Energy statement signals greater action on energy efficiency for vulnerable Victorians

The Andrews Government’s latest statement on energy efficiency shows Victoria is on the right path to using energy efficiency as an important tool to help low-income households manage their energy costs, according to the Victorian Council of Social Service.

Saving Energy, Growing Jobs is an excellent framework providing a comprehensive approach to improving Victoria’s energy efficiency. In particular, VCOSS welcomes its attention to the role of energy efficiency in improving wellbeing and reducing living costs for vulnerable Victorians,” said Emma King, CEO of VCOSS.

“High household energy use leads to more expensive bills, which can cause hardship, debt, and disconnection for some struggling families and people on low incomes. High energy use is often caused by poor quality housing and inefficient appliances and vulnerable Victorians often lack the funds to upgrade appliances or improve the energy performance of their housing due to financial constraints or because they are tenants.”

“The Victorian Government’s commitment to examine ways to strengthen the energy performance of existing buildings and to explore options to provide funding assistance for appliance and housing upgrades for those who need it most are steps in the right direction. As the largest housing provider in the State, the Victorian Government is in a position to take early action in the social housing sector, while examining assistance to vulnerable households in private rental or home ownership.”

“The proposed Residential Efficiency Scorecard self-assessment tool is a great first step to improve households’ ability to identify effective energy efficiency improvements they can make now, and potentially paves the way for future mandatory disclosure and minimum standard schemes.”

“VCOSS particularly commends the inclusion of information on how properties perform during heat-waves. We know that more Victorians die in heat waves than during any other natural event and improving knowledge and awareness of our biggest natural killer is essential to help at-risk people manage their safety.”

“VCOSS also welcomes the commitment to strengthening the role of energy efficiency in broader support measures, such as concessions and energy retailers’ hardship programs. By bringing these different assistance measures together, they can have far greater impact to reduce energy costs for those in greatest need.”

“For many households, the largest barrier to energy efficiency improvements is the upfront cost. The commitment to investigate the use of innovative finance models is a promising response to this and VCOSS recommends including options to use No Interest Loan Schemes to help low-income households improve their energy efficiency.”

“The proposed legislation for local governments to use Environmental Upgrade Agreements to provide low-cost finance for energy efficiency improvements is welcome, and we urge the State Government to also consider its use for residential buildings as well as businesses.”

“Overall, Saving Energy, Growing Jobs provides a cogent and integrated direction for Victoria’s energy efficiency policy in the future. We look forward to working with the Victorian Government, including at the Energy Efficiency and Productivity Summit, to help improve the lives of Victorians struggling with low-incomes and high energy costs.”