Rental homes and apartments can make the switch too!

Tenants and landlords can all benefit from electrifying rental homes!

 
The pathway to electrification is an opportunity for property owners and residents to work together to remove fossil gas from our homes and make best use of efficient electric technologies and clean renewable energy for the future of our city.

Gas is a fossil fuel that contributes to climate change. Burning gas in homes releases fumes that contribute to respiratory illnesses, especially in children and the elderly. Open flames in gas cooktops and heaters create the risk of fires and burns. Gas is inefficient for cooking and heating, and increasingly expensive, especially for households on tight budgets.

Electric appliances can do everything that gas does, faster, safer, cleaner, cheaper and more efficiently. Removing all gas appliances means you can eliminate the entire gas bill, saving the household thousands of dollars in energy costs.

Given that around a third of Canberra’s housing is rental properties, the participation of landlords is essential to achieving the goal of zero emissions from buildings. The ACT Government is committed to phasing out gas by 2045, so all homes will need to electrify eventually. The sooner your property goes all-electric, the greater the benefits for both landlords and tenants.

It is generally quite straightforward to make the switch in free-standing houses. Apartments are trickier to retrofit, but solutions can be found, especially when all unit owners work together.

Advice for property owners

Many tenants are keen to electrify for their own cost-savings and comfort and also to do their bit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they need your help. Equally, many property owners are interested in sustainability but not sure how to apply it. Electrification is one of the most meaningful ways for building owners to address climate change and improve quality of life for your tenants.

As a landlord, any improvement you can make to the energy efficiency of your rental property will improve its appeal to prospective tenants. Improving the home’s health, safety and comfort for your tenants will make them more content and stable. Switching out gas appliances for efficient reverse-cycle air-conditioners, hot water heat pumps and induction cooktops will future-proof the value of your property as gas is phased out across the city and the country and all-electric homes become more appealing.

Landlords are eligible for the ACT Government’s Sustainable Household Scheme, a zero-interest loan of up to $15,000 to help with the purchase and installation costs for electrification.

Collaborate with your tenants and property manager (if applicable) to plan the upgrades over a timeline that works for all of you. At the very least, commit to replacing gas appliances with electric when they reach replacement age or the next time they need servicing or repair.

Use the calculator and other resources in this website to explore your options. It is likely that you can claim the costs of replacing gas appliances in your rental property — consult with your tax adviser to optimise the timeline for upgrades.

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Top electrification tips for landlords

  1. Replace gas hot water with a hot-water heat-pump.
  2. Replace gas (and wood) heating with reverse-cycle air-conditioning.
  3. Replace gas cooktop and oven with an induction cooktop and electric oven.
  4. Abolish the gas meter and pipes to prevent gas leaks.
  5. Upgrade ceiling insulation to at least R5.
  6. Install good quality blockout blinds or curtains on all windows.
  7. Fix draughts around windows, doors and wall vents.
  8. Install rooftop solar panels and battery.
  9. Install a fast-charger for an electric vehicle.
  10. Consider other energy efficiency upgrades such as replacing 3mm windows with double-glazing, adding insulation in walls and under floors, planting shade trees, installing windows in north-facing walls, adding awnings over west-facing windows.

Resources for property owners

Sustainable Household Scheme — $15,000 zero interest loan.
Sustainable Home Advice Program — energy efficiency advice.
Minimum energy efficiency standards for rental homes — upgrade ceiling insulation to at least R5.
Renting and Occupancy Laws — your rights and responsibilities as a landlord.
Healthy Homes for Renters — learn about the health impacts of poor quality housing.
Rental properties: repairs, maintenance and capital expenditure — Australian Taxation Office fact sheet.
Domain Sustainability in Property Report 2022 — Energy-efficient homes are worth more.
Energy.gov.au/rebates — search for financial rebates for energy efficiency upgrades in your state.

Advice for rental tenants

Top tips for renters

Get in touch with your property manager or landlord.

As a minimum, ask them to:

  1. Replace gas hot water with a hot-water heat-pump, and
  2. Upgrade ceiling insulation to comply with the ACT’s new energy efficiency standard for rental properties.

If the landlord is amenable, ask them to also do some or all of the other actions in the ‘Top tips for landlords’ list above, prioritising the gas actions.

If the landlord can’t make upgrades right now, try these temporary actions:

  1. Use portable electric heating appliances instead of gas
  2. Use portable electric cooking appliances instead of gas
  3. Insulate windows with temporary curtains
  4. Block draughts around windows, doors and wall vents.
  5. Keep yourself warmer with woollen clothing layers and blankets.
A man and a woman are playing with their young children

An energy-efficient all-electric home benefits landlords AND tenants.

Note: do not make any modifications to the property without your landlord’s written consent.

As a rental tenant, making changes to your home can be challenging because you do not have control over the decisions. And for a variety of reasons in a competitive rental market, you may be hesitant about asking your landlord for upgrades. However, you do have rights as a tenant.

At some point before 2045, all rental properties will have to replace all gas appliances with electric. And there are real benefits from electrification for both you and your landlord, the sooner the better.

Download the resources on this page and tailor them for your own use. Get in touch with your property manager or landlord and provide them with the information about making the switch.

  • Ask them to prioritise replacing gas hot water with electric (preferably a heat pump).
  • Point out that landlords are eligible for the ACT Government’s Sustainable Household Scheme, a zero-interest loan of up to $15,000 to help with the purchase and installation costs for electrification.

Ideally, the landlord will replace all of the gas appliances and upgrade the ceiling insulation to meet the new standard.
You could suggest a timeline starting with hot water and offer to obtain some quotes, or at least your landlord might agree that the next time a gas appliance needs servicing or repairs, they will replace it with electric.

But even if hot water is all they are willing or able to do in the short-term, you can take non-permanent steps to stop using gas, then close your gas account and eliminate your gas bill. You can use portable electric appliances and temporary curtains and blankets and then take them with you to your next home.

The landlord is responsible for the costs of upgrades. But, you may be eligible for financial assistance and energy advice schemes – see tools and resources below.

Get in contact with your landlord
Download our template letter, edit the highlighted text (or copy the body text into a new email) and send it to your landlord along with the free guide below.

Download letter template

Energy tools and programs for renters

Renters’ Home Energy Program — free expert advice to help you make your rental home more comfortable while reducing your energy costs.
Renters’ Home Energy Webtool — an online questionnaire that takes about 30-60 minutes to complete and produce a personalised action plan.
Home Energy Efficiency Program — for concession card holders and low income households.
Home Energy Tune-Up — Don’t know where to start? Care and Vinnies can help you plan effective strategies to tune-up your energy needs.
Getting off gas for renters — Chapter 4 from Renew’s Getting Off Gas Toolkit.

Other resources for renters

Better Renting — a community of renters working together for stable, affordable, and healthy homes.
The Renting Book — your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in the ACT.
NSW Tenants’ Union New Renters Kit — your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in NSW.
Tenants’ Union ACT — join or support advocacy for tenants’ rights.
Legal Aid ACT Tenants Advice Service — get advice about your rights and responsibilities.
Renters Guide to Sustainable Living — covers energy and water efficiency as well as waste, solar, transport, strata living and working with your landlord.

Advice for apartment owners and residents

There is no question that retrofitting apartment buildings and townhouse complexes is trickier than free-standing houses, but it can be done!

Apartment building

Retrofitting apartment buildings will require collaboration between owners and occupants.

Retrofitting complex multi-unit buildings is a two-fold process:

  • develop the technological solutions for individual residential units, commercial spaces, common spaces, and centralised services, and
  • gain agreement, via the owners corporation, strata management or body corporate, from all unit owners on how to fairly and equitably share the costs and benefits.

It might be possible for units to electrify individually, but there are benefits from taking a whole-of-building approach, such as bulk-buying appliances and systematically coordinating installations. Perhaps align electrification with other renovation work or upgrades such as installing solar power or electric vehicle charging.

The journey can be kicked off by the residents, unit owners or the strata management body. Find other like-minded unit owners or occupants and organise an expert to give a presentation, or hold a cooking class using portable induction cooktops — these are great ways to start the conversation.

It may take months to reach agreement and years to contract and complete the work, so the sooner your building can get started, the better. Ask banks about “green” loans to finance sustainability upgrades.

In the short-term, apartment residents or commercial tenants can reduce their gas usage by using portable electric appliances where practical and safe to avoid using installed gas ones, and adopting other energy efficiency measures. Consider purchasing renewable electricity via GreenPower to reduce your unit or the building’s emissions impact.

Top tips for apartments

  1. Form a team (perhaps a sub-committee of the strata body) with:
    • technical skills
    • accounting skills
    • strata management knowledge
    • sustainability champion — a likable, persuasive communicator
  2. Investigate:
    • existing gas fitout and electrical capacity
    • technical and physical hurdles
    • electric alternatives and costs
    • strata procedures for approving upgrades
    • financial assistance
    • cost-sharing options
  3. Build the case:
    • draft a clear, compelling proposal that spells out the benefits
    • plan a timeline
    • propose a cost-sharing model
    • gain support from building occupants and key strata committee members
  4. Get the work done:
    • obtain multiple quotes
    • engage installers
    • coordinate access and installations with occupants
    • implement the cost-sharing plan
    • report to and teach committee and occupants about new technologies
    • establish new maintenance schedules
  5. Turn off the gas!
    • engage gas network operator to remove all gas infrastructure
    • ask tradespeople to recycle all removed appliances
    • coordinate all occupants to close retail gas accounts

Resources for complex buildings

Unlocking Sustainable Strata — A guide to electrifying your apartment building or townhouse.
A practical guide to electrification for existing buildings — Green Building Council Australia presentation.
Strata building hot water electrification in Canberra — Article by Water Tight plumbing service.
Electrifying your apartment building — Strata Community article.
Electrify Strata — interactive maps of strata buildings that are electrifying in 13 NSW council areas.
Strata Community Association — national peak body for stakeholders in multi-unit buildings, links to state associations.
Electrify Everything! — communications message guide by Moreland City Council.

Energy data requirements for strata — WattWatchers article.
Apartment electrification case study — Chatswood resident Brian Peck drove electrification of his 48-unit apartment building.
Energy Smart Strata — consultancy providing energy audits and electrification assessments for apartment buildings.
Household Energy Upgrades Fund — Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) provides discounted consumer finance to increase sustainability across the housing sector.
Allume SolShare — behind-the-meter hardware to enable fair sharing of rooftop solar electricity in apartment buildings.
Big banks take on greening of housing stock — Renew Economy article.

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