Alice Springs’ extreme climate and high proportion of residents living in public housing underpin a heightened vulnerability to energy and water poverty for lower income households in general within the town. DesertSMART COOLmob, in partnership with Anglicare and supported by Power Water Corp has been seeking to address these issues over the past 2 years.
Low income households typically spend a higher proportion of their income on utilities than other Australian households. Accordingly, these households are strongly impacted by rising utility costs and increased energy and water demand from higher temperatures (as a result of the changing climate). Low income households are also often living in rental accommodation which also reduces their ability to implement retrofits which increase energy and water efficiency.
COOLmob’s Low Income Household Energy and Water Efficiency project used three main strategies to assist residents in one of Anglicare’s Transitional Housing to reduce energy and water use:
- Home energy and water audits which identified key areas where residents could achieve efficiency savings;
- Small hardware upgrades such as the installation of water efficient shower heads, timer plugs and the adjustment of hot water service temperature settings and;
- The provision of a booklet which aimed to provide tailored information about how to save energy and water for this demographic.
COOLmob has also worked with Anglicare staff to improve their understanding of what their tenants could do to reduce their energy and water use.
Results from the project indicate that there are significant savings to be made through energy and water efficiency work with low income households in public housing in Alice Springs. Residents use of both energy and water was above the Alice Springs household average – quite significant give that these households are 2 bedroom units with no garden.
The sample size for this research was very small (only 20 households), so desertSMART COOLmob is currently seeking to continue the partnership with Anglicare and PWC to broaden the research, and assist further pulic housing households to reduce their energy and water bills.
For more details on this project, download the full research report (above).