Applications decline


FEWER Southland homeowners have been using incentive schemes to improve the health and efficiency of their homes despite government subsidies.

The Southland Warm Homes Trust’s (SWHT) annual report (to June 30, 2017), presented to Environment Southland’s (ES) organisational performance and audit committee on Monday, showed a significant drop in the number of homeowners applying for the trust’s Healthy Homes Programme compared with the previous year (to June 30, 2016).

For the 2016/17 year, only 23 privately owned Southland homes were retrofitted under the Healthy Homes Programme, compared with 214 for the 2015/2016 year.

Through the programme, the SWHT provides free energy assessments, subsidised insulation products and heating appliances to Southland homes via its service provider, Awarua Synergy.

Awarua Synergy general manager Sumaria Beaton said the drop in numbers accessing the scheme was due to the government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) having scrapped subsidies during the 2016/17 period.

“The good news is the EECA subsidy has been opened up again in the last few months.”

People should take advantage of this and get their homes insulated if they had not done so already, she said.

“It’s been such a hot summer, people are like, ‘it’s not that cold’, but insulation can also help keep a house cooler in summer. If there’s no insulation, that heat just comes pouring down from the roof.”

An opposite trend was clear for rental properties. For the 2016/17 year, 172 rental properties were retrofitted under the Healthy Homes Programme, compared with 61 for the 2015/2016 year.

SWHT financial controller Allan Beck said a national marketing campaign promoting the programme for landlords had led to the significant increase in the number of rental homes being insulated.

Ms Beaton said despite the government having offered landlords 50% subsidies to insulate rental homes for low-income tenants, few landlords had bothered prior to the announcement that proper insulation would become mandatory in all rental accommodation after July 1, 2019.

Now there was a rush to get it done and five to seven seasonal workers, who usually only worked through winter, had been retained over summer to install insulation, she said.

“If [landlords] leave it to the last minute, the industry won’t be able to keep up and they’ll miss out. There are thousands of homes need doing.”

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