New homes pre-wired for solar power, batteries and electric car charging
One of New Zealand's leading home builders has opted to pre-wire every new home for solar power, solar batteries and electric car chargers.
Aidan Jury, chief operating officer of Jennian Homes, says the first system will be installed in a new show home in Auckland later this month, and will be rolled out for all new homes built by the company.
"Jennian has a clear vision that all new homes in New Zealand should be built with energy efficiency and the future of our planet firmly in mind," he says. "We believe we need to be socially responsible and economically responsible, so we are looking at making a home energy efficient on a continuing basis, over its complete lifecyle."
Jury says it's not just about introducing better building materials. "We also need to consider the cost per square metre of running a house, not just the cost per square metre of building the house. Building energy-efficient homes, locking in a low price for green power and reducing reliance on grid power is a powerful combination that is set to change the face of the residential building market in New Zealand."
Jennian Homes is capitalising on the introduction this week of a new affordable solar battery storage system by energy firm Solarcity, which last year launched its solarZero service. This allows homeowners to buy solar power at a fixed price for 20 years, without the cost of fitting their own solar panels – the company installs and pays for these. "We're covering all the capital costs and building a power station roof by roof," Solarcity CEO Andrew Booth said at the launch.
Now the company has joined up with Panasonic, which manufactures lithium-ion batteries that allow homeowners to store excess solar energy generated during the day so it can be used at night and when grid prices are high.
The new system, called solarZero+, offers a guaranteed level of solar power, all the benefits of the solar battery, any necessary upgrades, monitoring and advice. The upfront payment is $2500, plus there is a low fixed monthly fee that covers all the company's energy services.
The system can provide emergency back-up power to the home, giving added security during unpredicatable outages and natural disasters.
Jury says Jennian Homes is offering three levels of service to home buyers – firstly all new homes are pre-wired for solar panels, battery and electric car charging; the next level is a seven-panel photovoltaic solar system that will capture the sun's energy and lock down the cost of homeowner's daytime power charges for 20 years; level three includes a 14-panel solar system plus a storage battery that will store energy and feed power to the home after dark, saving the consumer up to 60% on their power consumption costs.
"With the power rate fixed for 20 years, it's really a no-brainer to opt for the solar panels," he says. "The Bombay house we are building will have a solar panel system supplying 75 per cent of its energy requirements."
The battery unit is not large, at 1250mm high, 180mm deep and 900mm wide. It is best positioned near the circuit board, either in the garage or outside.
Booth describes the new solarZero+ service is a "real game changer for Kiwi homeowners. This smart solution will optimise their use of solar power and minimise the cost of power they buy from the grid".
"Figures released by Electricity Network Association show 5367 solar power systems had been installed by March 2015 – a 220 per cent increase over the previous 18 months. We predict this number will treble in the next year."
Jury says US research shows that solar energy-efficient homes have higher resale prices than those without such a system and sell twice as fast. "This scheme is transferable to new owners should you wish to sell."