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Energy efficiency consultation opens

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Minister for Building Issues

3 November 2006 Media Statement

Energy efficiency consultation opens

Public feedback is being sought on proposals to improve the energy efficiency of homes and commercial buildings through better insulation, solar water heating, and efficient lighting technologies, said the Building Issues Minister Clayton Cosgrove today.

Mr Cosgrove today launched a discussion document called "Energy Efficiency of Buildings", which he foreshadowed in an announcement last month.

The document outlines proposals to better insulate new homes, to make it easier to install solar water heating systems in new and existing homes, and to improve lighting efficiency in commercial buildings.

Mr Cosgrove said reducing energy use and wastage at home and work would not only put more money in people's pockets through lower power and gas bills, but it was also an important step towards New Zealand becoming truly sustainable.

“Improving the way we utilise energy in our homes and workplaces is a top priority for the Government,” he said. "Creating more energy efficient homes and commercial buildings is crucial for our environment, and is an important step in tackling climate change issues.”

"Having better insulation also means lower heating bills and warmer, dryer, healthier, more comfortable homes,” said Mr Cosgrove. "In most regions better insulation would include double glazing, plus well insulated ceilings, walls and floors."

Also in the document is a proposal to make it easier, and therefore cheaper, to install solar water heating.

“Solar technology can cut consumers’ water heating costs by about half,” he said. “But currently, the absence of guidance about installing these systems means territorial authorities are having to assess each installation on its own merits, which takes time. We will be addressing this barrier to solar uptake head-on."

Proposals around more energy efficient lighting in commercial buildings would take advantage of innovative and inexpensive technology.

Mr Cosgrove said energy savings of between 10 and 30 percent could be gained by ensuring that commercial buildings use modern efficient lighting technologies.

“For example, smart controls that take account of natural light in a building and adjust the illumination to meet lighting standards are now readily available and reliable, as are energy efficient light bulbs.”

“These proposals are about New Zealand making smart choices towards achieving a sustainable future. We are giving Kiwis a say on the energy efficiency of our homes and workplaces, as well as enabling people to take control of their energy bills," said Mr Cosgrove.

The proposed measures would involve changes to the Building Code and/or new Department of Building and Housing compliance documents.

The consultation period closes on 22 December 2006. The Department will consider submissions and report back to the Government by the end of March 2007. It will also be reporting on the results of work on hot water rating systems and heating, ventilation and air conditioning in commercial buildings.

The document, "Energy Efficiency of Buildings", is available on the Department of Building and Housing’s website: www.dbh.govt.nz or by phoning 0800 242 243 for more information.

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Background Information

How do these proposals fit in with other Government initiatives?
These proposals complement other Government work in this area, including the Building Code review, which is scheduled for completion in November 2007, and the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy.
While a new Building Code is still some time away, these are measures we can take in the short to medium term to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

What are the major benefits of the proposals?
- Lower power and gas bills
- Reduced energy use
- Reduction in environmental impacts and in carbon emissions
- Warmer, dryer, healthier homes and workplaces
- Easier access to new and more efficient technologies

Are buildings really such large consumers of energy?
Residential and commercial buildings consume nearly a quarter of New Zealand's energy, and more than half of the country's electricity consumed is used in buildings in some way. About $2.2 billion a year is spent on home electricity. About a third of this is used to heat water, one third to heat space, and one third to power household appliances and lights. In commercial buildings, about one third of the electricity is used for lighting, one third for heating and cooling, and one third to power equipment.
The proposed changes for commercial buildings could lead to energy savings for New Zealand of about 104 Gigawatt-Hours (GWh) over a decade. This equates to enough power to run 1,300 residential houses over that period. It also equates to savings of 20.1 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

What will it mean for the owners of new homes?
New homes will be more thermally efficient than those already built. To achieve this, most new houses would need:
- Better wall, ceiling and floor insulation
- Double-glazed windows
- Any skylights double-glazed.
While these enhancements could cost between $3000 and $5000 per new house, there would be lower energy costs over the life of the house, and better temperature control in both hot and cold weather, and healthier living.

What about existing homes?
It will be cheaper and easier to install solar hot water – in new houses and in existing houses. While the proposed new requirements for insulation apply to new homes only, other steps can be taken to use energy more efficiently, including:
- Lagging the hot water cylinder and pipes
- Fixing dripping hot water taps
- Stopping draughts and resulting heat loss
Thorough insulation and smart use of the sun's energy it can mean heating is not needed for much of the year, as the house remains warm, even on winter nights.

Will the same rules apply regardless of local climatic conditions?
People in the South Island should be able to get the same level of comfort, health, and efficiency from their homes as those in the North, and vice versa. So, while all new houses will have to meet the same standards for warmth, the way those standards can be achieved may vary, depending on where you live.

ENDS

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