Why are families asking for help as spending on essentials skyrockets?

A survey conducted online by Australian Parents for Climate Action in July and August 2022 asked 1000 households about their energy use, cost of living expenses and spending over the past three months. They found that 95% of families want help to be more energy efficient at home as the cost of living soars.

Most found that in order to manage costs, families have cut back on basics like food and travel, and almost 10% said they were accumulating debt to manage rising energy bills.

Help wanted for energy efficient solutions at home.

The survey also found that the vast majority of families wanted greater government investment and support in the form of rebates to make energy-efficient solutions like solar and electric vehicles more accessible.

Key findings of the report included:

  • 44% of families had reduced spending on food
  • 41% of families had reduced their use of heaters
  • Victorian families are experiencing tougher cost-of-living pressures as a result of their legacy gas network
  • 40% of families were planning to spend less on holidays
  • 35% of families had reduced their electricity use at home, which was more likely for Queensland families (44.3%) where electricity takes a greater proportion of energy bills.

Anxiety and stress were also on the rise due to additional financial pressures, with lower-income families more likely to have made significant changes to manage rising living costs, particularly reducing their use of electricity, heating and petrol, as well as skipping bills or paying them late.

“The average Australian family is currently being smashed by multiple, concurrent shocks to the cost of living”, said Tim Buckley, Climate Energy Finance director and energy analyst.

“There is a commonality to these concurrent shocks – the hyperinflation in fossil fuel commodity prices (oil for cars, gas for energy, and gas and coal for electricity). We have seen oil prices double and treble, while gas and coal prices have risen five to tenfold”.

“Worse for households, hyper-inflation of fossil fuel costs has caused a sustained surge in general inflation, which has the direct implication of rising interest rates, raising the cost of mortgage servicing at the same time as reducing the capital value of houses. For the vast majority, financial distress is elevated, and will rise further,” he said.