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Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

Nick Smith MP
National Party Building and Construction Spokesman

8 October 2008

Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

New regulations that put tight constraints on water flows in household showers are unfair and unworkable, says National’s Building and Construction spokesman, Nick Smith.

“Labour’s nanny state is out of control. They tell us how to live our lives by doing things like dictating what can and can’t be sold in school tuckshop and what light bulbs we can use, and now how much water we can use when showering.”

The new showering regulations, which take effect on 1 February next year, are part of amendments to the Building Code Compliance Document NZBC H1 Energy Efficiency covering hot water systems. To get any new building consent, the flow rate in showers will have to be approximately half that of existing household showers. It will also be illegal to change any shower head to increase flow rates after 1 February.

“Hundreds of thousands of people who start each day with a good drenching in their showers will be shocked to learn Labour wants to make such little luxuries illegal over time.

“There is no rhyme or reason to these regulations. One’s house size should not affect how much water you can use in your shower. This silly regulation particularly discriminates against families. In addition, people often shower for longer when water flows are weak, so savings end up being minimal.

“Households with solar, wetbacks or heat pumps may be using negligible electricity to heat their water. It is illogical to put restrictions on shower flows when no restrictions are put on bathing which uses significantly more energy. These regulations apply even if you’re not connected to the national grid or town water supply.

“National is all for efficiency and that is why we back improved home insulation, solar hot water, and heat pump technologies. These regulations are a misguided attempt at efficiency. What they really are is about using less. We don’t have to be so green that we can’t be clean.”

Dr Smith says industry is also concerned that all hot water cylinders will be required to have a heat exchange coil for closed-loop solar water heating after 1 February next year.

“That requirement will cost more than $500. Other solar heating systems do not have such a requirement.

“People should be free to use as much water as they like when showering, provided they don’t expect others to pay for their profligacy. User-pays is a far better approach than nanny state.”

ENDS

Attached: backgrounder on new shower regulations

New Shower Regulations: Backgrounder


1. Currently there are no controls on shower flow rates and households are free to install shower heads with flows ranging from 5 litres/minute to 24 litres/minute (some are as high as 35 litres/minute). The average is 13 litres/minute.


2. New building regulations severely restrict water flows in showers. The original proposals were consulted on in May 2007. The request for comments by 8 October states: “Changes to NZBC (New Zealand Building Code) clause H1 have now been made and come into force on 1 February 2009”, and goes on to state: “The Department is seeking final comments on the draft compliance document before it is published in October 2008”.


3. The new NZBC Clause H1 Energy Efficiency includes a new Performance H1.3.4(c) in respect of hot water systems. The “Acceptable Solution” requires all new hot water pipes to be insulated (to which there is no objection) and places restrictions on the flow rates of showers in sections for housing 5.2.1 and 5.2.2 which are summarised in the table below:


/ Home Area
Hot Water Heating Systems / < 3 bedrooms / > 3 bedrooms or > 150 m sq

Electric / 7.5 l/min / 6.0 l/min
Instant Gas / 9.0 l/min / 7.5 l/min
Solar / 9.0 l/min / 7.5 l/min
Heat Pump / 12.0 l/min / 12 l/min
Gas with Storage / 6.0 l/min / 6 l/min


4. The new regulations apply to any new building consent issued from 1 February 2009 and will cover new homes and alterations. Repair or replacement of an existing hot water system will be allowed so long as it does not make it less efficient.

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