New scheme helps low-income Australians save on energy
More than 100,000 low-income Australian households will have access to a new $29.9 million scheme from the Gillard Government that provides advice and support on reducing electricity and other energy costs.
These households will be able to call a new hotline for information and about half of them will receive free in-home consultations with financial counselling and energy efficiency advisers.
The Minister for Community Services, Ms Julie Collins, officially launched the Home Energy Saver Scheme during a visit to Coonara Community House in Upper Ferntree Gully today, accompanied by the Member for La Trobe, Ms Laura Smyth.
“The Home Energy Saver Scheme adds to the Gillard Government’s range of support measures and payments to help families with their utilities bills now and into the future,” Ms Collins said.
“The Scheme begins on 1 July and will provide practical help to householders on how they can become more energy efficient and reduce their power bills.
“The Scheme is being delivered through 19 not-for-profit organisations across Australia, with national coordination by Kildonan UnitingCare.
“All these not-for-profit organisations are currently providing general financial counselling services to individuals.
“They will now also work with households to improve the way they manage their finances and use energy.
“Trained staff will provide tailor-made advice and in thousands of cases will visit people’s homes to draw up individual plans,” Ms Collins said.
The Minister for Families and Community Services, Jenny Macklin, said about 50,000 households will receive home visits by local advisers trained in financial counselling and energy efficiency over the coming months.
“With the carbon price starting on 1 July, we want to make sure that people with the least room to move in their budgets get all the help they need. That’s why we’re delivering generous household assistance payments – giving many people on low incomes more money than their expected price impacts to help them make ends meet,” Ms Macklin said.
To help people make the switch to more energy efficient home heating and cooling systems the Gillard Government is providing a $20.7 million boost to the popular No Interest Loans Scheme. The new funding has been reallocated from the former Solar Hot Water Rebate Scheme.
This boost is on top of $13.5 million the Gillard Government’s provides to Good Shepherd Microfinance to deliver no interest loans of up to $1200 to people on low incomes.
Ms Macklin said the new in-home advisers would work one-on-one with people to advise on the best ways to reduce utilities bills by improving the energy efficiency of their home.
“Just by making small changes around the house, like turning off the lights or getting the most energy efficient washing machine you can afford, people can save some money on their energy bills. That means you get to keep more of your new household assistance.
“The new advisers will sit down and talk to people about how to make all the little changes add up to extra money in their pockets.”
All advice and support programs and energy-related NILS loans will be administered through the Home Energy Saver Scheme.
Ms Smyth said the new Scheme would be a big help to local families and pensioners looking for ways to cut down their power bills.
“The Home Energy Saver Scheme offers that extra bit of help for those in our community looking to save by being more energy efficient,” Ms Smyth said.
“For too many low income householders, energy efficient appliances, heating and cooling systems have been out of reach.
“Now, we are making it possible for Australians in need to be part of a more energy efficient future for the benefit of their families,” Ms Smyth said.
The Australian Government is also setting up a help line as a one-stop inquiry centre for all aspects of the Home Energy Saver Scheme.
The Home Energy Saver Scheme starts on July 1 and is part of the Government’s Clean Energy Future package.
Further information is available at: FaHCSIA Website