PHOTO: Houses in Wellington. FILE
If Labour is re-elected, they have pledged to initiate a rebate pilot program aimed at homeowners who enhance the energy efficiency, warmth, and dryness of their homes. This three-year pilot program will cater to homeowners who undertake a “deep retrofit,” a complete insulation upgrade, or the electrification of their current residences. Under this scheme, eligible participants could receive rebates of up to $18,000.
The estimated cost of this policy over a four-year period is $81.6 million, with funding to be drawn from the Climate Emergency Response Fund. Megan Woods, the spokesperson for building and construction, energy, and resources, emphasized the significant potential of warmer, dryer homes in reducing energy consumption and, consequently, emissions. This potential is particularly pronounced when transitioning from gas-powered appliances to electric ones.
Woods stated, “Every individual deserves to reside in a well-heated and dry home. We are aware that a substantial portion of New Zealand’s housing stock lacks energy efficiency. The rebate program introduced today will not only lower emissions and reduce household energy bills but also stimulate demand for deep retrofits and create employment opportunities.”
A “deep retrofit,” eligible for a rebate of 30% of the total cost, up to $18,000, focuses on optimizing energy efficiency through a comprehensive approach that encompasses the entire house. This approach differs from conventional retrofits, which typically target isolated systems for improvement, such as ventilation or insulation.
For homes where a deep retrofit is unnecessary, especially those already reliant on electricity, an insulation rebate of up to $7,000 may be applicable under this policy. The transition away from gas in New Zealand homes, aimed at reducing carbon emissions, can also benefit from a rebate of up to $3,000 for households making this switch.
Megan Woods stressed the importance of energy efficiency as a crucial element in clean energy transitions, offering rapid and cost-effective emissions reductions while simultaneously lowering household energy costs and enhancing energy security. These rebates open up the possibility of energy efficiency improvements for everyday homeowners in New Zealand.
This initiative builds upon previous government efforts, including the Warmer Kiwi Homes program, which facilitated 100,000 retrofits for lower-income New Zealanders, and the Healthy Homes standards for renters. Woods highlighted that this policy represents a “win-win” situation for both New Zealand households and the environment.
In August, the Green Party unveiled a policy that would cover up to 25% of the expenses associated with zero-carbon home upgrades, such as rooftop solar installations, heat pumps, and improved insulation like double-glazed windows.
To summarize, Labour’s retrofit rebate election promise includes:
- Rebates of up to $18,000 for deep retrofits of existing homes.
- Encouragement of measures like air tightness, insulation, double-glazing, and electrification.
- Rebates of up to $7,000 for partial retrofits, such as double-glazing and insulation.
- Rebates of up to $3,000 for households transitioning to electricity and abandoning gas usage.