Low income renters struggle with energy costs, says AHURI

By Ceyda Erem ·
renters-winter

Almost half (40%) of renters experience energy hardship, according to new research from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI).

The research found that renters with low income, existing health issues and most concerningly, living in poor conditions, were the most vulnerable and more likely to experience financial hardship with their energy expenses. 

However, Dr Lyrian Daniel from the University of Adelaide believes that as energy hardship can have many faces, it’s difficult to determine the most effective way to help renters. 

“One of the big problems is that there is no agreed definition of how the community measures energy hardship,” he said. 

“It is critical that we’re able to capture and then monitor the different factors that lead people into energy hardship overtime so that effective policy responses that catch people before they experience deep and long-term disadvantage can be developed.” 

The quality of dwellings is said to be a major concern for renters trying to reduce energy costs, as 18% of public renters and 14% of private renters were unable to stay warm during winter. 

Tenants also felt limited by the options they have to improve the heating efficiency of their apartment, as many landlords didn’t value making energy efficient upgrades to their investment properties. 

“One strategy we propose is that landlords could be ‘incentivised’ to improve their houses’ energy efficiency and performance over time” Daniel said. 

“This could be done through landlords being able to claim tax rebates or other financial assistance so that appliances, such as old, inefficient hot-water services, could be upgraded to more energy efficient models instead of replaced with ‘like-for-like.”

Victorian renters find it harder to stay warm 

The report also found that half of Victorians who rent have a difficult time heating their apartment, due to draughts and lack of insulation. 

At the same time, there is research that suggests that doing minor retrofitting tasks, like draught-sealing and installing ceiling fans ‘can significantly reduce energy costs for tenants while retaining a comparable level of comfort’.

One in ten Victorian renters also have no fixed heating systems in their apartments, which often means having to purchase a portable heater. 

But unfortunately, while this does provide temporary comfort during the winter months, it can add an extra $150 a year to bills compared to homes using more energy efficient appliances. 

If you are a renter looking to save on your energy bills this year, check out this article with our top five energy savings tips

Or if you’d like to find out more about how renters can save by switching energy plans, check out our renters FAQ guide.

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Ceyda Erem
Ceyda Erem
Money writer

Ceyda Erem is Mozo’s authority on Energy, as well as having broader expertise as a personal finance writer. She loves to put her researching and writing talents into stories that help our readers to make more informed financial choices, whether that’s about finding the best energy deal or writing about the latest sneaky bank tricks. Ceyda has a Bachelor of Arts (major in writing) from Macquarie University.