Scheme keeps citizens toasty

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 08:02 28/01/2013
insulate stand
JONATHAN CAMERON
WISE Better Homes employees Bryan Le Cren, left, and Kere Bailey lay polyester insulation in a New Plymouth house.

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There is nothing to lose and plenty to gain from a New Plymouth District Council home energy scheme that starts next month, says Mayor Harry Duynhoven.

From February 1, New Plymouth ratepayers will have an alternative way to fund the installation of home energy products and insulation in their homes.

All ratepayers would be eligible to apply for up to $5000 (including GST) to support the installation of clean energy heat products or solar water heating or up to $2600 (including GST) for the installation of insulation.

The costs were then paid back through rates using a voluntary targeted rate (VTR) system, with interest over nine years.

Duynhoven said he was thrilled the scheme was included in the long-term plan.

"I'm delighted with this; it's something I've pushed for several years," Duynhoven said.

The scheme would not cost the council money nor would it cost ratepayers who did not take part in the scheme, he said. "It's fiscally neutral for the council."

People who took part would have a rates increase from the start of the new rating year on July 1. The interest rate would be set at 7 per cent for the first year and subject to change thereafter.

The scheme was a useful way for ratepayers to upgrade their homes without having to raise additional mortgage funds, Duynhoven said.

The scheme could be used for a range of services and products, including home insulation, solar water heating, clean heating and heat-pump water heating.

To be eligible for the scheme, homeowners must be the ratepayer of the home, up to date with rate payments and, for insulation, have a home built before 2000.

"It's a very simple and effective way of upgrading our housing stock," Duynhoven said.

Funding assistance for products would be provided only if the property was insulated and it was available for only one product or installation.

Funding support would be provided only through VTR for EECA-registered installers and products that were EECA- approved or had an energy star rating.

Heat-pump water heating products must be registered with the New Zealand Hot Water Association.

That provided a guarantee that the product and installation would be of a high standard, Duynhoven said.

"We can have confidence that people won't get ripped off."

Duynhoven had his home insulated recently and it noticeably improved the warmth and ambience of the house and reduced power bills, he said.

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The scheme would be particularly attractive to rental property owners, he said.

People applying for financial assistance needed to include a $200 administration fee with the necessary paperwork.

Once work was completed, the additional rating increase would be added to the property's land information memorandum.

The Nelson City Council had a similar scheme for solar products, called the Solar Saver scheme.

However, last year it discontinued the scheme because the uptake was less than initially projected, making it less viable for the council to continue. A rise in installation costs to customers meant the city council was faced with increased levels of administration and compliance costs associated with the scheme.

It was now looking at other solar heating assistance alternatives.

Duynhoven said there was nothing to lose in giving the VTR scheme a crack in New Plymouth.

"We'll try it out and see how it goes."

The New Plymouth District Council advised people to first look at the EECA website to see what Government funding was available.

People may also want to speak to the bank about providing finance for home energy installation.

Many banks waive the administration and loan setup fee for the installation of home energy solutions potentially offering a more affordable option.

For more information, contact the council on (06) 759 6060 or pop in to the Civic Centre or a council library and service centre.

More information could also be found on the EECA and Smarter Homes websites.

THE DETAILS Financial Assistance $5000 $2000 $1000

Cost per rate payment (monthly) $63.95 $26.48 $13.24

Per annum cost $767.44 $317.72 $158.86

Nine year total $6906.98 $2859.48 $1429.74 The figures are indicative only.

The interest rate will be set at 7 per cent for this first year. Thereafter it is subject to change.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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