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Extra loans key to 1 million home upgrade

Extra loans key to achieving 1 million home upgrade

The key to hundreds of thousands of home owners taking up $1800 Government grants to insulate and efficiently heat homes will be the extra new loans to help cover the whole cost of the work.

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development says today's Budget announcement of a four-year target to improve the performance of 180,000 privately owned homes built before 2000 is a significant new policy.

It recognises the scale of the problem.

About 1 million of the country's 1.6 million homes are inadequately insulated. Cold, dampness and mould are making the occupants of 433,000 homes sick, according to the findings of a $300,000 two-year Business Council research project to find answers to the problem.

The housing project research manager, Heather Stonyer, says 59% of owners who say their houses could be warmer and more energy efficient can't afford to fix the problem.

However, 670,000 of them would accept the right package of home performance improvement grants and loans from councils, power companies and banks in the next 10 years. 210,000 would accept a package like this and act in the next two years.

Most also want a performance rating on homes - so when they come to sell or rent a property others can tell it has been upgraded. This can add 5 to 10% to a property's value, according to overseas experience. They also rent faster and for more.

"So the new sources of finance to add to the grants are critical. It's great news that the Government is developing these. We're also working with 30 other organisations to solve the problem, develop the rating system and encourage new finance products," Heather Stonyer says. "Home improvement brings big rewards in jobs, health, energy savings and productivity."

The Government's new policy move is significant because it recognises the scale of the problem New Zealand faces, the huge benefits to be gained by acting on a large scale, and allocates $323.3 million to the scheme over the next four years.

The Business Council's report on how to improve the New Zealand home performance is at http://www.nzbcsd.org.nz/housing/content.asp?id=446

The latest nationwide research on funding options New Zealanders will use is here: http://www.nzbcsd.org.nz/story.asp?StoryID=991

Further polling on the new scheme and options is being launched this evening.


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