Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart to focus on insulation

The priority for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) over the next 12 months is insulating as many homes as possible, says EECA Chief Executive Mike Underhill.

Latest Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart figures released today show 180,000 homes have been insulated to the end of August, including 7088 homes insulated in August alone.

Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart provides funding for both insulation and heating, however heating funding is now limited.

"Most service providers are likely to use up their heating allocation by the end of September, coinciding with the start of warmer weather," Chief Executive Mike Underhill says.

"EECA has funded nearly 40,000 efficient heaters - heat pumps, wood and pellet burners, and gas heaters - since the programme began in July 2009.

"As the biggest benefits from the programme come from insulating houses, the majority of the remaining funding allocation is being focused on insulation grants from now on.

"Focusing on insulation represents the best use of government funding, and the biggest benefit for the homeowners."

Funding would still be available for replacing inefficient wood burners or open fires in areas of poor air quality (Clean Air Grants).

In this year's Budget the Government announced that the number of houses EECA would insulate would increase to 230,000. This is 41,500 above the previous four-year programme target of 188,500.

This includes a 72% increase in the number of low income houses being insulated overall, Mr Underhill said.

Questions and answers

What research has been done on the benefits of insulating homes?

A series of reports commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Development (now a part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) on the Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme found that $5 worth of benefits arose from every $1 spent on insulating homes.

Read the reports on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

Why is it more effective to fund insulation than heating?

Once a house has insulation, any form of heating is more effective and cheaper to run. Most homes have some kind of heater.

When exactly will the heating end?

That depends on each service provider, and how quickly they work through their allocation. EECA expects most to have used their allocation by the end of September 2012. This is when demand drops off due to warmer weather.

What are Clean Air Grants?

These are grants for replacing an open fire or inefficient log burner with an efficient heater, in the dozen or so areas recognised as polluted airsheds.