Riverstone cleaner Ruth Sorbello’s family could be one of the first to benefit from the Federal Government’s $100 million Low Income Energy Efficiency Program.

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“Our family is doing it tough,” Ruth told the program launch in Sydney. “In winter, we all use blankets so we don’t have to turn on the heating.

“We have three boys, two of them teenagers, and get by on a single income. Energy costs keep going up and any help in meeting our bills is going to be appreciated.”

Ruth, who has cleaned at Blacktown’s Westpoint shopping centre for 12 years, welcomed Energy Efficiency Minister Greg Combet’s move to target low income families, and particularly renters, for assistance.

Mr Combet announced United Voice NSW would be a partner in one of 11 schemes that will pilot the three-year LIEEP program.

He said he was pleased not-for-profit groups, including unions, would be involved in a scheme that would aid the environment by delivering energy savings to low income Australians.

United Voice NSW branch secretary, Mark Boyd, said quarterly energy bills were eating up substantial chunks of members’ incomes.

“Using money from the carbon price to take the pressure off low income earners makes a lot sense,” Mr Boyd said.

“United Voice is proud to work on this program with our partners because it is going to improve the lives of our members and their families, and that’s what trade unions do.”

United Voice is partnering with the Nature Conservation Council, UTS Institute of Sustainable Futures and Australian manufacturer, Solahart, to offer its members the chance to benefit from energy efficiencies.

Mr Combet announced their Power Savers Challenge project would get nearly $3 million over four years.

The money will go into trialling practical ways to make the homes of low income Australians more energy efficient. The government estimates up to 25,000 low income households will benefit over the next four years.

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