Making the most of energy efficiency upgrade programs in social and Indigenous housing

Dr Theresa Harada1, Dr Dan Daly, Professor Gordon Waitt, Professor Paul Cooper

1University Of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia


Household energy practices and infrastructures have become a key government policy theme. In light of the need to encourage adaptive behaviours to address the potential threats from climate change, governments have increasingly focused on the household as a site for improving energy efficiency and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. This includes schemes that target improving the thermal performance of buildings by installation of insulation, improving the air-tightness of building shells, upgrading appliances to more energy efficient models, replacing existing storage hot water systems with newer heat pumps, and the coupling of Solar PV with reverse cycle air conditioning. In this paper, we present some results from a project funded by CRC centre for low carbon living that addressed energy efficiency in social and indigenous housing in NSW. It points to the way that one-size-fits-all solutions are unlikely to achieve optimal outcomes because of the socio-technical interface. We discuss the implementation of a range of energy efficiency upgrades across different climatic zones, the barriers that were encountered and the experiences and behaviours of tenants. The results indicate that there must be attention given to the institutional organisation and implementation of the projects and acknowledgment of the significance of tenant behaviour and practices.


Theresa Harada, PhD Human Geography, Research, Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space at University of Wollongong. Theresa works as an ethnographer using social science methods to investigate everyday practices and the implications for how we understand and respond to the imperatives of climate change adaptation.

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