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Strategy Seeks More Comfortable Homes & Workplaces

Strategy Seeks More Comfortable Homes And Workplaces

Owners of new homes could halve their energy costs in the near future as self-heating houses and more energy efficient household appliances become increasingly commonplace.

Proposals to assist these developments are in the draft National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy that Minister of Energy Pete Hodgson launched today. The draft strategy aims to improve New Zealand’s overall energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2012.

Further improving the building code to require optimum energy efficiency would enable most new homes to maintain a year-round internal temperature between 18 – 25 degrees without additional heating.

“Energy cost reductions and greatly improved comfort can also be achieved in older homes. Seventy percent of homes were built before any insulation standards and New Zealand homes are often colder than the World Health Organisation recommends,” Pete Hodgson said.

“Insulation, draught-proofing and energy efficient appliances could reduce energy costs in more recent homes by around 20 percent and by up to 60 percent in older houses.”

One of the most wasteful household energy use areas is water heating. Typically it uses half of a home’s power bill – but inefficient hot water cylinders waste 40 percent of the energy drawn. This can be easily minimised by wrapping the hot water cylinder and pipe.

The Draft National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy targets residential and commercial buildings as a key area in which the country can make energy efficiency improvements.

Mr Hodgson said buildings account for 22 percent of consumer energy use, with two thirds of this being electricity.

Slow building turnover means achieving best practice for new buildings is important long term but most gains will come from improving existing buildings.

The Draft Strategy proposes a 15-year programme to bring all existing buildings to acceptable energy efficiency standards through funding improvement projects, more targeted information and new market incentives.

Commercial building regulations in New Zealand have minimal energy performance requirements compared to overseas. Changes could include using architectural design to improve energy efficiency and closing the 200 percent gap between the modelled energy intensity of buildings and their actual performance.

“Improving the operation of buildings, including heating, lighting and air-conditioning, would reduce energy bills and make work places more comfortable for employees,” Mr Hodgson said.

The Draft Strategy says consumers need to raise their expectations of energy efficiency in homes. This could be achieved through greater understanding of the benefits of efficiency improvements – including reduced energy bills and improved health and comfort from warmer, drier homes.

It suggests piloting a home energy rating system as mandatory consumer information in house sales. A similar scheme operates in the Australian Capital Territory.

Other proposals include a Housing New Zealand energy efficiency upgrade programme, and continuation and redesign of residential assistance programmes such as the Energy Saver Fund.

This year the fund is investing $1.4 million in 20 new projects affecting nearly 8,000 households nationwide. The projects include a mix of new and traditional energy saver measures in conjunction with partners such as local bodies or energy service companies.

Total investment in the projects is $4.18 million, with returns including savings of 60,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and $6.26 million in energy costs over the lifetime of the projects.


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