3 May 2010 – In its submission to the Senate Inquiry into the federal government’s failed home insulation scheme, the Australia Institute drew on the results of its survey of home owners eligible for the scheme.

The results appear to confirm media reports of aggressive and misleading marketing used by some insulation suppliers. Sixteen per cent of all householders contacted by providers were told that roof insulation needed to be replaced regularly and that, even if the home already had insulation in place, the owner would be wise to take advantage of the scheme. This information, the survey authors maintain, was false and misleading.

Alarmingly, if the numbers were extrapolated nationwide, it could mean that 400,000 home owners eligible under the scheme were similarly misinformed. More than four per cent of respondents, representing 260,000 homes, reported that they in fact had insulation new installed despite already having it. One million households participated in the government scheme which did allow for a pre-existing “low level” of insulation to be in place without eligibility being effected. However, if the survey results are correct, the net gain in energy efficiency for those households would be less than accounted for under the scheme. In other words, ineligible households which had new insulation installed could not be included in a tally of total energy savings under the scheme, the survey authors argue.

Furthermore, a significant number of survey respondents (equivalent to 270,100 householders) reported paying out-of-pocket expenses as a result of taking up the scheme. The Australia Institute concluded that even if the government paid for the removal of dangerous or sub-standard insulation, more than a quarter of a million households could be out-of-pocket while their homes remain no more, and possibly less, energy efficient than they were prior to the scheme. Nineteen per cent of respondents surveyed described the work of their insulation installers as “amateur, inexperienced or disreputable”.

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