Chilly wait for insulation funds

GRANT EAMES: South Canterbury Lines Trust chairman.
GRANT EAMES: South Canterbury Lines Trust chairman.

The management of a popular South Canterbury home insulation programme is on tenterhooks, waiting to find out whether it will receive funding for the next year.

South Canterbury Lines Trust chairman Grant Eames said the programme was "on track" to insulate 400 properties through its "healthy homes" project by the end of the financial year.

However, he said, the project could be stymied if it was not successful in the latest round of Energy Efficiency Conservation Association (EECA) funding next month.

"The Government has really tightened the criteria, and there is less money to go around," Eames said. "We've got enough work for the winter, but after that, it's really up in the air."

In the seven years since the trust launched its Healthy Homes project, Eames said close to 3000 families living in pre-1978 homes had received insulation packages.

It has been jointly funded by the South Canterbury District Health Board, the Lines Trust and EECA.

EnergySmart is the service provider for the project. In a recent report to the South Canterbury District Health Board, EnergySmart general manager James Gallagher said that, although health professionals had been good in providing referrals, there had been a "slow uptake" by landlords - who could have the bulk of the homes they owned insulated, provided they were willing to provide about $345 up front.

Eames agreed it had been a stumbling block.

"If the landlord fronts up with the money, it could save them up to more than $1500 if they wanted to insulate it out of their own pockets. Obviously, the actual tenants have to meet the requirements - usually the project targets families with children under 17, Community Services Card holders or the elderly - but it's a worthwhile thing to do. It adds value to the home, and makes their tenants healthier."

Eames said the waiting list was so long - up to six weeks at the moment - that there would be a few who would miss out before the end of June.

"If we're successful in the next EECA round, we should be good for a while. If not, it's all over, rover," Eames said.

"It's a bit on tenterhooks at the moment."

The Timaru Herald