In a move which could impact the lives of up to one million Australians, The Australian Greens have unveiled a new plan to upgrade energy and water efficiency in social housing.

The Greens hope their Repowering Social Housing policy will reduce the cost of living for low-income families across the nation.

“The Greens’ plan will put solar panels on the roof of every social housing home, will cut power bills for those who need it most, and will improve the quality of life for the one million Australians living in social housing,” said Greens housing spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam.

“We will upgrade all public housing stock, including state-owned and managed Aboriginal housing, community housing and indigenous community housing, with solar power systems and measures to save power and water.”

With much of the nation’s housing stock being more than a generation old, Ludlam says the potential for efficiency improvement is significant

“Two thirds of social housing homes in Australia were built before 1980 – they waste electricity, they waste water, and they’re hard to keep warm,” he said. “Many older Australians live in social housing. They should have a home that’s easy to keep warm in winter and cool in summer – and will be much cheaper to maintain.”

The plan envisages equipping social housing properties with 1.5-kilowatt solar power systems at a cost of around $1,500 apiece, as well as installing energy and water efficient appliances, including shower, heads, ceiling fans and ventilation fans.

It will also aim to raise the level of green building and energy efficiency awareness among ordinary Australians by providing a training, employment and education package to tenants who are interested in working in the green jobs sector.

The Greens say their plan, which would cost less than $80 million, represents a cost-effective way to improve lives and would be well worth the investment – especially given that solar panels can save households around $500 per year and the difference between a five-star home and a three-star home is around $1,000.

 “This is a fully-costed plan,” Ludlan said. “For less than $80 million a year, Repowering Social Housing will make a big difference to the lives of so many people.”