40 per cent of householders surveyed are unfamiliar with household 'electrification' or 'decarbonisation'

Consumers need the process of electrification and decarbonisation to be simplified. Otherwise they will drop out of the journey.

Australia faces a massive challenge trying to electrify over 10 million homes across the country and make them energy efficient, as highlighted by recent research undertaken by green lender Brighte.

Nigel Freitas, Head of Enterprise and Corporate Affairs at Brighte, revealed at the Smart Energy Council’s recent consumer summit that 40% of people they surveyed were unfamiliar with terms like ‘electrification’ and ‘decarbonisation.’  

And whilst 60% of respondents said they don't have access to adequate information about electrification and decarbonisation, 40% said the task of electrifying is overwhelming - there's too much information out there and much of it is conflicting.

Freitas emphasised the critical role of consumers in driving the energy transition. “We're going to have to move a lot of [consumers] from apathy to action, and make that process really simple.”

“The energy transition is not going to happen without consumers,” Freitas said. “This doesn't need to be a consumer led transition, but consumers need to win from this transition.”

Brighte’s research identified three main barriers hindering household electrification and decarbonisation: trust, affordability and information. Freitas urged governments to address these hurdles in the design of their residential decarbonisation programs.

“The first barrier is [consumers] don't know where to start,” explained Freitas. The second barrier is many people don’t know how to find tradies who can help them electrify, and the third biggest barrier is the upfront cost.

91% of householders surveyed say they only want to use tradies who are funded by a government program to be accredited by an industry body, and 93% want consumer protection baked in to the program itself.

It's not just installers consumers want vetted Freitas says - they also want standards for retailers. “Around 90% want to make sure they have access to the right people selling the right product, in the right way, at a fair price.”

Whilst 70% of people struggle to afford the upfront cost of making sustainable home upgrades, “three out of the top four reasons for people getting solar are financial,” says Freitas. “It reduces their bills, it helps them reduce their costs, and it increases the value of the home.”

“73% of people are telling us that they will pay more for an energy efficient home.”

Providing finance is Brighte’s core business, but they also run government programs including the ACT’s Sustainable Household Scheme, a program that aims to address the barriers to electrification by creating a simple and seamless process for householders.

In the ACT Bright now offers 10 year, zero interest loans of up to $15,000 for households to electrify and purchase energy efficient products. “There are no fees so the principle that you borrow is what you repay.”

But Brighte doesn’t just provide the finance for the ACT scheme. They also accredit all the tradies and vendors, and deal with customers. “The tradies don't get paid unless the household signs off first.”

The ACT government has also consolidated all the relevant information about home energy upgrades from different government departments into one website to make it easier for consumers to access and find.

“To participate in the program you also have to join one of their webinars either online or in person so you have information about what the journey looks like for you.”

The ACT has also partnered with consumer advocacy group Choice to create tailored home electrification plans: “it will design the journey for you and link you back to accredited Choice products.”

Freitas estimates that by the end of 2024 nearly 20% of all ACT households will have gone through the Sustainable Household program.

“What consumers want is simplicity and you've got to make it really easy because they will drop out of the journey at multiple points if you give them the opportunity,” says Freitas.

Anne Delaney
SwitchedOn Editor
June 4, 2024
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