Renters in energy-deficient homes suffer higher energy costs

A portion of the Canberra rental housing market is letting renters bear the burden of skyrocketing costs.  That group? Renters in homes with low energy efficiency.

According to a study by advocacy organization Better Renting, rental homes with that ranked below a five on the Australian Capital Territory Home Energy Ration (ACTHERS) result in renters missing out on significant savings. In fact, the study found that a three-bedroom dwelling with a zero energy efficiency rating (EER) costs renters around $2,800 extra a year.

Based on estimates, there are around 25,000 out of 45,320 rental properties in the ACT where EERs are lower than five. Taking into consideration the average household burden of roughly $1,600, all renters in ACT living in energy-deficient properties spend approximately $39m more than they have to each year.

Better Renting director Joel Dignam said renters are passing up some of the benefits of having an energy efficient home – they are forced to choose between spending more to be as warm or suffering through freezing temperatures during the winter.

"For some renters, the cost of energy deficiency is monetary but others, especially older renters or people with disabilities, are paying with their physical and mental health. With electricity costs going up, residential rental energy efficiency standards are a necessary and urgent measure to help all renters reduce their power bills," Dignam said.

ACT Council of Socal Service director Susan Helyar urged landlords to take the necessary steps to improve the energy efficiency ratings of their rental properties.

"This research backs what tenant advocacy, environmental, and business organisations have long been calling for: all privately-rented housing in the ACT must have a minimum energy-efficiency rating of five stars. This can be balanced by funding for landlords to make energy efficiency upgrades. Such a measure could be included as part of the ACT Climate Change Mitigation Adaptation Strategy," Helyar said.

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