Thousands more NZ homes to be insulated

Friday 25 May 2012, 2:55AM
By Phil Heatley

An extra 41,000 New Zealand homes will be warmer, drier and healthier, thanks to the extension of the Government’s Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme.

The insulation programme has been extended in Budget 2012 to insulate a total of 230,000 homes.

“Up to another 120,000 New Zealanders will be better off from the health and energy efficiency benefits provided by an insulated home,” Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley says.

The extra homes will be paid for from savings made in 2011/12 from the programme, which is administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

“We are providing value for money by using savings to insulate more homes for the same investment,” Mr Heatley says. “The Government’s commitment to the Maori Party to target a further 20,000 low-income homes for home insulation will be met by the extended programme.

“I also acknowledge the Green Party for their support of this programme under our Memorandum of Understanding.

“Warmer, drier homes provide real benefit to New Zealanders, particularly by improving the health of those with respiratory illness.”

The Budget also includes more investment in business energy efficiency, through reprioritised funding.

“There is significant potential to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions and increase productivity in our business sector, by improving energy efficiency,” Mr Heatley says.

“As a first step towards this, EECA will spend an extra $2.5 million on its business energy efficiency programme in 2012/13, by reprioritising funding from a number of programmes within Vote Energy.”

This is expected to save, on average, about $30 million a year in reduced business costs over the lifetime of the measures, through initiatives such as making commercial chillers become more energy-efficient. EECA will seek to make further reprioritisations to enable it to put even more funding into the programme.

The reprioritisation means that EECA’s grants for efficient water heating, which include solar and heat pump water heating systems, will be replaced by an information-based programme for efficient water heating. This follows a similar decision in Australia, and one by the Nelson City Council.

“In New Zealand we are in the fortunate position of being able to generate the majority of our electricity from renewable resources, making it less crucial for the Government to financially support renewable energy at a household level. This is especially relevant now when we need to prioritise Government spending,” Mr Heatley says.

The biodiesel grants scheme will also come to an end, as scheduled.

The focus from now on will be on bringing forward advanced biofuels rather than first generation biodiesel. Already $37.6 million has been invested through the Ministry of Science and Innovation into research into advanced biofuels, which are likely to provide a much greater volume and valuable source of renewable energy for New Zealand, Mr Heatley says.

“The Government is committed to the development of cost-effective sources of renewable energy that make sense for New Zealand.”