Australians are trying to stay cool in their homes as summer heatwaves persist, but Victoria has moved on to a program designed to keep the heat in during winter.
The Victorian Healthy Homes Program is an energy efficiency program providing free home energy upgrades to up to 1000 low-income Victorians with complex healthcare needs in Melbourne’s western suburbs and the Goulburn Valley.
The Sustainability Victoria-funded program has been designed to improve indoor winter temperatures (though will provide comfort benefits year-round) and reduce energy bills for those who can least afford to adequately heat their homes.
There’s strong evidence to back up tackling cold homes. The University of Adelaide’s Lyrian Daniel and Emma Baker last year wrote that cold homes were much more like to kill Australians than hot ones – with seven per cent of deaths between 1988-2009 attributable to cold weather, while one per cent were attributed to heat.
Recruitment for participants for the program has begun, with upgrades beginning this month and continuing until mid-2020.
Moreland Energy Foundation (MEFL) has been appointed delivery partner on the project, managing frontline services for home visits and energy efficiency upgrades.
Upgrades may include installation of draught proofing, ceiling or sub-floor insulation, high-efficiency heating/cooling appliances and and/or window coverings.
Participants will also receive two visits from an energy liaison officer to:
- assess homes energy efficiency
- identify energy/thermal comfort needs
- provide information that may help get a better deal from energy retailers
- collect various types of energy use and health data
MEFL chief executive Alison Rowe said the organisation was thrilled to be working on the project.
“We’re particularly pleased to be able to work with the most vulnerable households in our community to deliver what we hope will lead to significantly improved health outcomes and reduced energy poverty,” she said.
Energy, environment and climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government knew the value of energy-efficient housing.
“These programs are making things fair — helping low income households transition to a low carbon economy, combat climate change and save money on power bills.”
The program is also partnering with the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation, and Institute for Sustainable Futures to measure the health, energy and climate outcomes of the improved housing.
“Our analysis will examine the effects of the program on the wellbeing and health of Victorian families, and deliver new knowledge to the Victorian Government on its benefits and costs,” UTS professor Rosalie Viney said.
Those interested in being part of the program can visit Sustainability Victoria for more details.