Cool idea won’t cost us the earth

A YOUNG social enterprise has the ambitious aim of insulating all social housing in WA–without dipping into public funding.

The Australian Insulation Foundation on Tuesday installed free recycled glass insulation, known as “glasswool” in Maria Novak’s home, replacing old bats that were no longer up to standard.

The mother-of-three told the Voice the house became like an ice block almost as soon as she turned the heater off to save money, as all the warmth leaked through the old insulation.


AIF founder and CEO Stephen King says apart from being warmer and enjoying expected savings of up to $600 a year, Ms Novak could now expect a healthier family in an insulated house and was reducing her carbon footprint at the same time.

“We raise funds from installing insulation to the domestic market,” Mr King said.

“For every square metre of insulation we install, $1 funds the insulation…for tenants living in social housing.”

• Australian Insulation Foundation CEO Stephen King was busy insulating social housing resident Maria Novak and her daughter Alice’s house this week. Photo by Steve Grant

Registered as a charitable foundation last year, Mr King said the AIF will hopefully be fully funded through carbon credits in the future.

Ms Novak was the fifth recipient of insulation, and once they’ve reached 20 they’ll qualify for credits and are hoping to reach the gold standard.

That will mean each installation will earn enough cash from big polluters to practically fund the next one.

Mr King used to run a profit-driven insulation company, but said he switched his focus after becoming painfully aware of why people in social housing were missing out on the savings and comfort of a thermally-secure home.

“I was getting a call from someone living in social housing once a week, and I would give them the price and they would hang straight up.

“One day I decided to ring this woman back and I asked her what was going on, and she said it was in their rental agreement with Homeswest that they had to pay for any insulation, and she couldn’t afford it.

“I asked her how much money she had, and she said $70. Well, I had seven bags of insulation left over, so I installed it for free.”

Using the left-overs from the other jobs gave him the idea for his “pay-it-forward” social enterprise model.

Homeswest manages 36,000 properties across WA, and Mr King says insulating them all could generate more than $20 million in savings for tenants every year, as well as reducing their carbon emissions by 540,000 tonnes.

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