Energy efficiency should be a key policy response for addressing the impacts of rising energy prices, yet it is largely absent from current political debates about cost of living pressures and energy affordability.
In response to sharp rises in energy prices in recent years, many Australian households have reduced their energy consumption by investing in energy efficient appliances, home upgrades, and installing rooftop solar panels (AEMO 2012). However, persistent barriers have prevented people on low incomes from investing in energy efficiency as a way of reducing costs. These barriers include lack of access to capital for high value energy efficiency upgrades, and the inability of tenants to improve the energy efficiency of rental properties. For people on low incomes, these barriers are evident in the lower incidence of insulation in low income housing and tenanted properties, and higher rates of ownership of inefficient appliances that are cheap to buy but expensive to run.