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Retrofit initiative welcomed

Retrofit initiative welcomed

DEUN, the Domestic Energy Users’ Network, welcomes the proposal in “Better Performing Homes,” by the NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development, for a strategy to make up to a million houses more energy efficient.

DEUN supports the Business Council’s call for a standardised home energy rating to be made mandatory for houses being advertised for sale or rent.

This strategy targets one of the most cost-effective opportunities - the 80,000 houses being renovated each year, mostly for lifestyle or a “modern look”. Few of the people who renovate think of upgrading for warmth, or to reduce power bills.

DEUN’s member groups confirm that retrofitting or moving to a warm dry house makes a huge difference in comfort, as well as reducing energy and health bills.

We note that the Council’s survey reported many comments that cold houses are causing respiratory problems, but not a single comment recognising that heart and circulatory illnesses are also made worse by cold living conditions.

Public education is therefore a critical part of a healthy sustainable housing strategy.

Insulation is not enough. Unless the house fully incorporates passive solar principles, it will need an efficient heater of the right size. Thus the home heating industry needs to be included in any partnership between industry and Government for home retrofits.

The report says a typical energy upgrade costs around $20,000, similar to that of a kitchen/ bathroom upgrade. DEUN has information that heating upgrades range from $2500 for a small heat pump, or wood burner, to $10,000 or more for full central heating.

A proportion of all energy upgrade costs should be publicly funded, to recognise the major public benefit of household retrofits - reduced carbon emissions, reduced hospital costs, and reduced need to expand the electricity supply system. The Household Fund, part of the Emissions Trading legislation, was set up to do exactly that.

DEUN believes that a retrofit strategy will be far more effective if a consumer representative is involved in the stakeholder group that works on designing and implementing it. DEUN’s nationwide networks are ideal for getting the energy efficiency message across.

ENDS

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