Call to extend trial to solar panels

Kathy Scott enjoys the warmth of her new home after getting the cost of installing insulation and...
Kathy Scott enjoys the warmth of her new home after getting the cost of installing insulation and a heat pump added to her rates bill. Photo by Dan Hutchinson.
A year on from the start of a trial to allow home owners to add the cost of insulation and heating appliances to their rates bill and the Dunedin City Council has underwritten more than $2 million in loans. Dan Hutchinson looks at the popularity of the Warm Dunedin scheme. About $2 million has been loaned to hundreds of Dunedin home owners to insulate and heat their houses under the scheme.

The trial of the Warm Dunedin scheme finishes at the end of this month with more than 500 houses upgraded through the initiative.

Warm Dunedin Co-ordinator Nathan Keen said the council would review the scheme when it finishes and it could become a permanent option for people.

Others think the scheme could be expanded to include solar energy and other energy-saving technology.

Warm Dunedin allows people to add the cost of installing insulation and certain heating appliances to their rates bill and pay it off over 10 years as a targeted rate.

Roslyn woman Kathy Scott's family accessed the full $5000 in loans allowed under the scheme to insulate under the floor and the ceiling and install a heat pump.

She said she did not even notice the extra amount coming off the rates.

The heat pump had proved much cheaper than she first thought it would be and it had made a big difference to the family of four.

''It is quite a big house, high ceilings and we were sort of in the habit of heating the room we were in but now we are pretty much cosy everywhere.''

Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust manager Scott Willis said the targeted rate was ''an excellent mechanism'' and it could be used to fund other energy saving technology as well.

''The first off the rank would have to be solar photo-voltaic. There is huge demand, the price is right, there is a ready community wanting to do it and it makes sense to tie [the cost] to the house.''

He had spent $6500 installing photo-voltaic panels on his own house last year and said it would not take long to pay back.

''I paid my electricity bill yesterday, it was $41, so that makes a change from $150.''

Mr Keen said people should try and get a quote from insulation and heating installers by the middle of this month to make sure their application could be processed before the initiative ended on April 30.

He said the uptake of the scheme slowed over the summer and he was expecting a ''late rush'' of applications this month as people prepared for winter.

Low income home owners can also access Government subsidies to help towards the cost of insulation through the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme.


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