Energy study to help insulate vulnerable against bill shock

8 May 2020

Winter is coming and with the colder, shorter days we can probably expect higher energy bills as we all crank the heating.

But spare a thought for those Canberrans - and others in equally cold climes - who are living in housing with poor insulation.

That's exactly what ANU energy researcher Dr Lee White will do for the next 12 months as part of an innovative new project she is leading in partnership with ActewAGL.

Dr White is the 2020 winner of the Icon Water and ActewAGL Perpetual Endowment Fund. She will use the funding to explore the impact of housing energy efficiency on bills - and specifically how this might be driven by time of use.

The project aims to support the development of modernised electricity billing systems in a way that improves, rather than exacerbates existing inequities.

"This project would test the hypothesis that households in well-insulated homes will see greater bill savings when changing to time-of-use compared to households in poorly-insulated homes," Dr White said.

"If the hypothesis is supported, then there's a clear case to focus on insulation improvements for older homes.

"Vulnerable groups are more likely to live in these less insulated homes, and it's important to ensure these groups have at least an equal ability to lower bills on time-of-use rates compared to better off households."

The ActewAGL study will build on Dr White's earlier published research about demand-side electricity use and time-of-use rates by households in the United States.

"Prior research suggests that housing efficiency will limit ability to cut back on heating or cooling costs, but this question has not yet been addressed with rigorous empirical analyses," Dr White said.

"It's a great opportunity for an early career researcher like me to be able to work so closely with industry, this will allow us to make a really unique contribution to analysis in this area.

"I'm glad to have the support at ANU to pursue these kinds of opportunities."

Read more about Dr Lee's project and the Icon Water and ActewAGL Perpetual Endowment Fund at the ANU Energy Change Institute.