Groups call for mandatory insulation in rentals

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Helen Oakey. Photo: Danielle Nohra

LOCAL groups are banding together to call on the ACT government to make ceiling insulation a requirement in rental properties.

The Conservation Council ACT Region, ACTCOSS and Better Renting, says ceiling insulation in rental properties should be required to complement recent changes to its Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme, announced late last week.

Under the expansion of the EEIS scheme, households can receive a rebate from their energy retailer to shift from ducted gas heating to energy efficiency electric heating.

The scheme has also opened up the option of retailers offering incentives for ceiling insulation as an efficient way to achieve energy efficiency benefits.

However, Helen Oakey,  the executive director of the Conservation Council ACT Region, says stronger policies are required to ensure that more Canberra houses were insulated.

“It’s good news that the EEIS has expended the range of activities that can be offered by energy retailers, and including insulation is common sense as it delivers immediate improvements in comfort and energy savings,” she says. 

“Unfortunately, while most home owners don’t think twice about installing ceiling insulation as a basic measure, rental properties often aren’t well insulated.

“While we hope that ActewAGL moves quickly to make insulation available via the scheme, it’s also going to be important for the ACT government to require landlords to at least install ceiling insulation as a basic requirement of a liveable house in Canberra. 

Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam says the government should act to enable renters to experience the health benefits of energy efficiency.

“Rental properties in the ACT are much less likely to have ceiling insulation, so this rebate is a good step,” he says.

“Ceiling insulation can make a huge difference for people who rent, cutting their power bills and helping them to have a healthier home. Retrofitting with insulation improves health, leading to reduced hospitalisation rates, decreased medication usage, and less time away from work or school.”

“However, the risk is that private renters will pay for this scheme through their power bills, but be locked out of the benefits due to being at the mercy of their landlords when it comes to accessing the rebates. 

“Past experience of the EEIS and other programs suggests that landlords do not voluntarily take up opportunities to improve their properties. To complement the rebates, the ACT government should require landlords to ensure sure their properties are adequately insulated.”

ACTCOSS executive director Susan Helyar says private renters are being forced to make cost of living compromises due to high power bills.

“Energy prices in the ACT over the past two years have risen well above the national rate, with electricity prices rising by 11 per cent over the past year,” she says.

“Fuel and energy costs account for around 12 per cent of income in the lowest-income households compared to around just 4 per cent of income in the highest-income households. We hear about people cutting back spending on food, prescriptions and school excursions to avoid going into debt on their energy bills.”


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