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Want to know how to save yourself $100

January 16 2004

Want to know how to save yourself $100 - and the country millions of dollars each year?

Just by turning off all those stand-by electrical appliances in your home, you can save up to $100 a year on your power bill. That would amount to almost $120 million a year if all New Zealand households did the same.

That is just one of the hundreds of pieces of valuable information uncovered by the internationally recognised Household Energy End-Use Project (HEEP) research carried out by the Building Research Association of NZ (BRANZ Ltd).

Scientists and statisticians from BRANZ, Centre for Research, Evaluation & Social Assessment (CRESA) and CRL Energy Ltd are monitoring and studying all energy use in New Zealand households (including electricity, natural gas, LPG, solid fuel and solar water heating), as well as room temperatures.

Now in its seventh year, the study is collecting data from 400 homes throughout New Zealand, from Kaikohe to Invercargill. Data collection will be completed in 2005.

BRANZ principal scientist and HEEP project leader, Nigel Isaacs, says New Zealand's energy supplies may be uncertain - and the costs are rising - but understanding the reasons for our demand for energy will ensure those supplies are used most cost-effectively.

"Much of the energy debate has centred on improving supply, but it is demand for energy that creates the problems,' says Nigel Isaacs. "By better understanding the demand issue, we can better manage the supply side and therefore reduce the need to build hugely expensive new power stations.

"This will free up valuable investment funds for more productive uses that in turn will increase our international competitiveness.

"A better understanding of energy use will also open new opportunities for innovative technologies, to meet previously unidentified market opportunities. These could range from improved lighting controls to more responsive hot water heaters.'

The BRANZ HEEP research has already changed the way New Zealanders think about energy use in their homes. Previous HEEP reports have revealed that:

- standby power (the power used by appliances waiting to be used) costs the average home about $100 a year, or over $120 million for the entire country

- increasing energy prices have had the most effect on low-income households

- nearly 30 percent of New Zealanders spend their winter evenings in temperatures that are low enough to compromise their health

- houses built since thermal insulation was a requirement (1978) are warmer, but use no more energy than older houses.

Funding for the HEEP study has come primarily from the Foundation for Research Science and Technology ($2.8 million over four years). The money will be used to analyse data and develop a model of the New Zealand residential energy sector.

Funds have also come from the Building Research Levy, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority and Transpower New Zealand Ltd.

Further material, including the report Executive Summary is available on BRANZ website

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