Hundreds of new home owners could be better off and do their bit for energy efficiency thanks to some of this country’s largest volume home building and development companies.
Jennian Homes, Stonewood Homes and Golden Homes Christchurch are among the first to participate in EECA’s Solar Water Heating Volume Build funding scheme launched in July.
Government spokesperson on Energy Efficiency and Conservation, Jeanette Fitzsimmons says the scheme is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate what the Government and industry can achieve working together to increase the uptake of solar when it is most cost effective — at the time a home is built.
“Partnership with the building industry is important to the success of the solar water heating programme to inform and encourage more New Zealanders to choose solar water heating, especially when constructing new homes,” Ms Fitzsimmons says.
“I applaude Jennian Homes, Stonewood Homes and Golden Homes Christchurch for showing leadership and foresight by committing to the scheme. New home owners will find they have a more valuable asset and cheaper hot water, while the environment will benefit from lower carbon emissions.”
The scheme is a component of the Government’s $15.5 million investment in a solar water heating programme resulting from its cooperation agreement with the Green Party.
It forms part of its broad approach to promoting sustainability, energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy. Grants are offered to volume builders and developers who construct more than 20 houses a year, to install solar water heating systems onto new properties.
It includes a $3000 grant to install a solar water heating system on a showhome, and a $500 grant per home to builders who commit to install solar water heating systems on at least 20 new homes within a year.
Under the programme, solar water heating systems must be products sourced from an accredited supplier and meet criteria for energy performance, cost effectiveness and installation standards.
Volume builders eligible to participate and access the grants are able to reduce the cost to new home owners who wish to install solar water heating systems, by negotiating bulk purchase and packaged arrangements with accredited solar water heater suppliers.
Jennian Homes’ and Stonewood Homes’ nationwide franchises now offer clients the opportunity to incorporate a number of features, products and systems that will go towards ensuring their new homes are future-proof and contribute towards energy efficiencies.
Stonewood Homes’ director-sales Tony Andersen says the company offers solar as “standard” alongside a number of other energy saving features in all their new eco-friendly homes, allowing significant savings for most home owners.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction towards getting people to take responsibility for their energy consumption. Every little bit helps, and we encourage other builders and their clients to promote and consider solar as a viable alternative,” he says.
Jennian Homes has already advised it will be installing solar water heating into 30 new showhomes being built around the country. Through its 30 franchises, the company specifies solar water heating as a preferred option, and is now starting to install solar-ready cylinders into all new homes automatically.
Although the final decision to take up solar ultimately rests with the new home buyer, more people are coming to recognise the ease and benefits solar can offer for a relatively modest additional cost when building a new home.
“A home is generally the largest investment most people will make, so it makes sense to build in as much future value as possible at a time when it’s most cost effective to do so,” Jennian Homes director Richard Carver says.
“Our clients like to think they can take responsibility for their energy consumption while also safeguarding their home for the future and maintaining its resale value.
“They can expect their energy bills to reduce too, as a result of solar water heating installation — which always appeals!”
Hot water accounts for around $800 of an average household energy bill. A well-designed and installed solar water heating system can provide up to 75% of a household’s annual hot water needs, resulting in significant energy savings. It also helps reduce the carbon footprint of the house by 1.4 tonnes per year.
The Government wants to see a significant step up in the uptake and use of solar water heating systems, at the very least a doubling in the number of systems being installed by 2010.
The comprehensive roll-out of the solar water heating programme launched in 2006 is aligned with other work to promote energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy, including climate change programmes, the New Zealand Energy Strategy and the new National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy.
Further details about the scheme can be obtained by emailing email@example.com.