Repower and retrofit WA’s social housing in three years.

Almost 45,000 Western Australian families live in social housing across the state. Lack of investment in the repair and refurbishment of the housing stock means that the homes are ageing, inefficient and needing upgrades. 

Social housing is twice as likely to be uninsulated, and less than 4% of rentals have solar power or solar hot water systems. In a state like Western Australia with ample sunshine, this doesn’t stack up. The average star rating of pre-2005 homes is 2 stars or less. 

What are we proposing?

Clean State is advocating for a Social Housing retrofit stimulus package that provides:

  1. An energy audit to all homes in the first year, to collect baseline data on tenants’ energy use and carbon emissions and provide advice on zero cost changes to help save energy in the home.
  2. A Refurbishment Package tailored to each home, including
    • Insulation
    • Draught-proofing
    • Upgrading gas heaters, hot water and cookers with efficient electric
    • LED lighting
    • Security screens on doors and windows to allow natural ventilation
  3.  Rooftop Solar systems or access to community-owned renewables + batteries.

What are the benefits?

Living in an inefficient home is expensive. A WA study found over 60% of low-income families either frequently or occasionally did not use their heating or cooling despite feeling discomfort, in order to be able to afford their power bill.

Living in an inefficient home is unhealthy. A vast majority of public housing tenants are over the age of 65, and almost half report a disability. These people are much more likely to be vulnerable to temperature extremes in summer and winter. Perth is already experiencing more heatwaves and our residents are susceptible to heatwave related deaths. The impact of a simple energy efficiency scheme could halve deaths from cold weather and cut heatwave related deaths by 90%.

In addition to this, some of our most vulnerable community members would save at least $120-$200 per electricity bill (or up to $1,600 per year).

Energy efficiency is also one of the quickest and cheapest ways to reduce emissions. This program is estimated to reduce household energy consumption by 80% and will save 277,000 tonners per year.

How many jobs will this create?

This program would create 160 new jobs in energy auditing, 605 new full-time jobs in energy efficiency, and another 3050 in solar installation. An added benefit is that most of these jobs would be for small businesses, with many in regional areas. 

But what would it cost?

The retrofit program would cost approximately $176m. Providing solar would cost an additional $135m. 

We think there is a real opportunity here for the inclusion of abatement created by this program as an accredited carbon credit. Emissions abatement under this program could be packaged up as a form of WA carbon offset credit, which could generate $124.6m over 30 years at $15/tonne.

Acknowledgements and Endorsements

Our buildings package is endorsed by the Australian Insulation Foundation, Insulation Australasia, and Kingspan Insulation. Clean State is grateful to Make Renting Fair, WACOSS, the Energy Efficiency Council, ASBEC, Shelter WA, Access Housing, ClimateClever and Renew who were consulted in the development of this package.


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