Communities around the world adapt to warming climates in a number of ways. Adaptations can often be energy intensive or dependent on expensive infrastructure to cope with harsh weather, so the use of renewable energy and energy efficient housing is becoming an increasing feature in conversations about climate change adaptation. The cost of energy for households continues to increase, with this cost adding considerable financial pressure on low-income households in both developed and developing countries. The concept of ‘energy poverty’ is gaining utility around the world to highlight the prevalent dilemma faced by low-income households that they cannot afford the level of energy use to maintain their desired livelihood. In regions of the world with extended periods of extreme weather, households can allocate as much as 20 per cent of their budget on energy consumption to maintain comfortable housing. Research by the authors indicates that effective adaptation must not add to the financial burden on low-income households, if the liveability of Australia’s semi-arid region is to be sustained.