Apr 29, 2007

Federal Labor’s Solar, Green Energy & Water Renovations Plan for Aust Househol

Federal Labor’s Solar, Green Energy and Water Renovations Plan for Australian Households

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

Kevin Rudd – Federal Labor Leader

Anthony Albanese MP – Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water

Peter Garrett MP – Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Heritage

29 April 2007

A Federal Labor Government will offer Australian households low interest rate loans of up to $10,000 to help make existing homes greener and more energy and water efficient.

Some of the items Australians will be able to purchase under this plan include:

  • Solar panels;
  • Rainwater tanks;
  • Roof insulation;
  • Solar hot water heaters;
  • High-efficiency gas hot water heaters replacing electric storage systems;
  • Awnings; and
  • Grey water recycling systems and energy efficient lighting.

Federal Labor’s $300 million Solar, Green Energy and Water Renovations Plan for Australian Households is a practical way for Australian families to make a real difference on climate change.

This is part of Federal Labor’s overall and comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050.

The Solar, Green Energy and Water Renovations Plan for Australian Households will save families money over time on their energy and water bills.

This plan could generate up to $2 billion worth of green inspired investment and benefit the small business sector – especially tradespeople.

The plan will make it easier and more cost effective for families to refit their homes through:

Low interest rate loans of up to $10,000 to 200,000 Australian households, with household income of up to $250,000, by 2012 which will be repaid in line with their capacity to pay;

  • Government-accredited environmental audits to identify how Australians can cost-effectively reduce their energy and water use in their homes;
  • A free “Green Renovations” pack including tips for green living, energy efficient light globes, a shower timer and water efficient shower head;
  • An option for families that prefer to borrow through their financial institutions to generate carbon offset credits through the voluntary carbon trading market;
  • Helping households save up to $800 a year on their energy and water bills and increase the value of their homes; and
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15 million tonnes over the scheme’s lifetime. This is equivalent to taking around 4 million cars off the road for a year, or planting more than 15 million trees.

The low interest rate program will begin in January 2009 and is expected to support 200,000 households over the period till 2012-13.

As with all government programs, this plan will be reviewed based on take-up.

Federal Labor understands that governments, families and individuals can be partners in reducing household greenhouse gas emissions and pressure on our stressed water systems.

Water tanks, solar power, insulation and eco-friendly building materials can all make a big difference to the energy efficiency of a home.

The Solar, Green Energy and Water Renovations Plan for Australian Households is a practical policy to help Australian households reduce their emissions and builds on Federal Labor’s comprehensive approach to dealing with climate change.

So far, other plans include:

  • Setting up a national emissions trading scheme;
  • Setting up the $500 million National Clean Coal Fund;
  • Funding the $50 million Solar Home Power Plan, allowing about 12,000 Australian households to install solar panels;
  • Setting up a $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund designed to generate $2 billion to secure jobs in the automotive industry and tackle climate change by manufacturing low emission vehicles in Australia;
  • Substantially increasing the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target;
  • Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol;
  • Cutting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050;
  • Establishing a Diplomatic Initiative with China – sending a delegation of Labor Shadow Ministers and leaders from science and business to China;
  • Commissioning an Australian focussed equivalent of the UK-Stern Report on the impact of climate change on both the Australian economy and jobs;
  • Set a target of making half of all Commonwealth cars in its fleet environmentally friendly by 2020; and
  • Establishing an Office of Climate Change within the Prime Minister’s Department.

Case study 1: four-person household, no gas connection.

Actions:

  • change electric storage water heater to electric-boosted solar (cost $3,800)
  • get water tank, and connect it to laundry and toilets (costs $3,000)
  • 2 x dual-flush toilets (costs $600 x 2 = $1,200)
  • install three-star water head in shower (costs $50)
  • ceiling insulation (costs $1,200)
  • install 15 Compact Fluorescent Lights (costs $90)

Total outlay: $9,340

Savings per household:

  • Water saved = 45,000 litres per year
  • Greenhouse gas reduction = up to 5 tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) per year
  • Money saved on water and energy bills = $750 per year

Payback:

Loan payback, based on income of $100K p.a., is around 5 years.

Case study 2: five-person household, existing water tank and gas connection.

Actions:

  • change electric storage water heater to high-efficiency gas (costs $1350)
  • connect existing water tank to laundry & toilet (costs $1250)
  • install three-star water head in shower (costs $50)
  • ceiling insulation (costs $1200)
  • replace 20 halogen downlights with 30 Compact Fluorescent Downlights (costs $660)
  • install 10 Compact Fluorescent Lights (costs $60)

Total costs: $4570

Savings:

  • Water saved = 45,000 litres per year
  • Greenhouse gas reduction = up to 7.2 tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) per year
  • Money saved on water and energy bills = $800 per year

Payback:

Loan payback, based on income of $100K p.a., is under 3 years.

Background

Australian families are concerned about climate change and are keen to do what they can to make a difference. The challenge for government is to make it easy for them. Australian households directly and indirectly contribute nearly 60 per cent to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions through use of electricity, gas and transport. By using technologies that can cut energy waste and save water, our actions at home can make a big difference.

Improving energy and water efficiency in the home makes financial sense too; families that refit their homes to be more efficient can cut their energy bills by as much as a half.

However, at the moment few Australian families are capturing these benefits. This is for a range of reasons, including:

  • Most lack easily accessible, trusted information about available technologies and how much money they can save;
  • They are often put off by high up-front costs;
  • It can be hard to find time to work out what needs to be done, arrange finance, and organise trades people to do the work; and
  • The benefits don’t just go to them; they go to the rest of society as well in terms of lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower water use.

Federal Labor’s Solution

Federal Labor’s Solar, Green Energy and Water Renovations Plan for Australian Households will make it easier and more cost effective for families to refit their homes through:

  • Government-accredited environmental audits to identify how they can cost effectively reduce their energy and water use;
  • Low interest rate loans of up to $10,000 to 200,000 households, with household income of up to $250,000, that can be repaid in line with their capacity to pay;
  • A free “Green Renovations” pack including tips for green living, energy efficient light globes, a shower timer and water efficient shower head;
  • An option for families that prefer to borrow through their banks to generate carbon offset credits;
  • Working with State and Territory Governments to allow any state rebates to be included in the scheme under a one-stop-shop arrangement; and
  • Working with State and Territory Governments to make it compulsory for point-of-sale building reports to include energy and water efficiency ratings.

Home audits will cost around $250. Families would contribute $50 to the cost of the audit but receive this back if they implemented some of the recommended improvements.

Key features of the government subsidised loans include:

  • Homeowners who are employed or retired will be able to access the scheme. To ensure fairness, the loans will be limited to households with income of up to $250,000;
  • Priority will be given to older, un-renovated homes to maximise potential savings;
  • Before obtaining the loan the homeowner will have to submit their home to the environmental audit;
  • The amount loaned will not exceed the cost of any improvements;
  • The annual interest rate will be limited to the rate of CPI inflation;
  • Individuals’ repayments will be just 2 per cent of their gross annual income, though a minimum annual repayment of $300 would apply;
  • Repayments will be collected through the tax system where possible – if borrowers are not taxpayers, as would be the case for pensioners, then repayments will be collected through the Department of Human Services;
  • Pensioners will be able to elect for repayments to be made via Centrepay;
  • Loans will be the liability of the home’s owner as well as their spouse or de-facto partner;
  • If the home is sold the debt will be repaid from the proceeds; and
  • There will be a hardship review process, so that if any family suffers hardship because of repayment there would be a process to negotiate a longer repayment period.

The government subsidised loans will initially be provided by the Commonwealth but Federal Labor will examine whether greater private sector involvement would result in the loans being administered at lower cost.

So that families that prefer to finance “green” investments through existing financial products also benefit financially, Federal Labor’s Solar, Green Energy and Water Renovations Plan for Australian Households:

  • Provides them with both the environmental audit and the Green Renovations pack; and
  • Allows them to generate carbon offset credits for their investments in measures that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Under this option auditors would:

Create carbon offset certificates when homeowners agree to make the investments;

  • Supply the credits to existing markets for voluntarily purchased emissions credits; and
  • Rebate homeowners from the proceeds of selling the credits.

Both financing options will be complemented by an accreditation scheme for environmental auditors, and delivery through.