Whether your team won or not, we’ve got a new government that’s going to make some changes. Our chief executive Philip Squire reflects on what that might mean for our work in environment, healthy housing and social equity.
The results of the recent election have seen a change to the left in NZ governance. Labour, Greens, and NZ First have agreed on a number of policies that on first blush provide some significant wins for social equity, environment, and housing.
Of course no matter how well-intentioned the policies are there is no guarantee that they will actually be created into law in their election-promise state. But they do provide some strong indicators that the government is serious on tackling some of the most serious social and environmental issues our country faces.
Here’s the ones that are closest to our hearts at Sustainability Trust:
1. Climate change: A Zero Carbon Act and independent climate change commission is promised. What this means is that firstly New Zealand must come up with a plan to reduce emissions to zero by 2050, and that most policy work across government will have to consider climate change implications. Big wins for the planet, social responsibility and our ability to once again hold up our heads on the world stage.
2. Warm, dry housing: A raft of potential policies that will provide support for vulnerable households to access warm, dry housing and pay energy bills. These include:
a. A strengthened legislation which will guarantee minimum heating, insulation, and ventilation requirements for all rental properties.
b. Grants of up to $2000 for all homes to insulate and heat up to minimum standards.
c. Winter fuel supplements of $75 for low-income households to assist with cost of heating
d. NZ First also discussed nationalising the big three energy companies – watch that space as NZ First has the State-owned Enterprise portfolio. But at the very least, they have negotiated a review into retail power pricing which should see some hard questions being asked as to the rapid increase in lines and retail charges over the years since deregulation.
3. Transport: Reprioritising for low-carbon alternatives. This could mean a slow down on Roads of National Significance (RONs) and more funding for rail, cycle infrastructure and public transport options. Of interest to Wellington citizens is the hold on removing our trolley bus fleet. Again with leadership from the top on a low-carbon economy we may see decision makers all the way down the line carefully analysing infrastructure investment with climate impacts top-of-mind.
4. Waste minimisation: Commitment to minimising waste to landfill by a reduction in all waste classes by 2020.
5. Wages: On top of all of this there is a commitment to raising the minimum wage over the next three years to $20/hour. Directly addressing disposable income for struggling households is a laudable policy and will assist with keeping homes warm and dry once the basics of heating, ventilation, and insulation have been installed.
We, and our partners, will be working with the incoming ministers over the next year to provide practical advice on the roll out of these policies from a community perspective. Getting most of our policy wish list granted is a huge surprise and now a responsibility to actually make some significant impact.
We’re up for it, and encourage all our friends and partners to keep up the conversation with elected officials – they’ll need to have continued robust feedback and support to get these polices enacted and rolled out.
We’re excited to announce the launch of our new community gardening programme – Get a Grand’y, Grow a Garden.
It’s an intergenerational programme that aims to address loneliness, build resilience and encourages skill sharing in our community.
We’re looking for community groups – young people, older people, preschools, rest homes, a whole range – to take part in piloting the programme.
The aim of programme is to bring together a mix of younger and older people in green spaces around Wellington (including community gardens, senior villages, urban gardens, schools etc) for a spot of gardening and time to socialise.
A community group/school/resthome will host regular (twice monthly or monthly) gardening and grow workshops. Each workshop will provide the opportunity for younger and older members of the community to get together and upskill on nurturing seeds, growing crops and harvesting food. At the end of the ‘field to fork’ workshop series they will host an event to socialise and enjoy the fruits of their labour.
We’re aiming to:
- Facilitate relationships between older and younger people in our community
- Promoting skill share
- Build gardening skills
- Address loneliness
- Build resilience
- Build active communities
- Promote understanding between generations
If you are interested in piloting the project in your space then please email email@example.com.
With a clear election result a couple of weeks away, we don’t yet know what the next government will be doing for environment. So it seems a good time to talk about ways you can do your bit to care for your environment right now – regardless of who ends up in power.
- Shop better. Buy local, buy ethical, and with the environment in mind. From small changes like buying a KeepCup to stop those takeaway cups heading to landfill, to big changes like investing in an electric car which will reduce your carbon footprint while getting from A to B.
- Think about how you’re getting from A to B. Could you be greener in your transport? Could you walk or bike once a week? Not sold on tackling Wellington’s hills and wind? Ditch the gym membership and buy an electric bike to ease the pain? Could you catch public transport instead of taking the car? Think about what’s possible and set a realistic goal for yourself to start changing habits.
- Organise or take part in local community action. Get along to the next beach clean-up or tree planting day, sign up to be a part of the Predator Free Wellington movement, or get involved in changing Wellingtonians’ plastic bag habits with Boomerang Bags.
- Get into the garden! Plant the right stuff to bring back birds and bees, get a vegetable patch started, set up a compost and worm farm to take care of all your organic waste. Teach the kids as you go, so they understand why it’s important – then give them a job to do. We have some free resources here to get you started.
- Rally your local council. Local and regional councils play a very large role in taking care of our environment – from managing our waste and water to maintaining or restoring forests and parks. Find out what their policies and plans are on issues that matters to you. Don’t think they’re good enough? Take part in public consultations and demand improvement, start a petition, write letters and keep asking questions.
- Go vegetarian or vegan. If you’re worried about the impact the meat and dairy industry are having on our environment, put your money where your mouth is and cut it out of your diet. Like it too much? Cut it out two days a week.
- Support the Zero Carbon Act. Now’s a great time to write to all those that have made it into Parliament with congratulations, and send good luck letters to all those waiting to see if they made the cut or not. Let them know that whatever happens in the next two weeks, you want a MPs to support the Zero Carbon Act. A pragmatic approach to slowing climate change for the benefit of all, regardless of party affiliation.
- Check your own home’s energy efficiency. Book an in-depth two-hour home energy assessment, or if you’ve already had one, get started on your action plan! Change lightbulbs, get proper curtains, block draughts, top up your insulation. Check the energy efficiency of your appliances – is it time for an upgrade, or could you make better use of what you’ve got, for example by putting a timer on it?
- Look at your waste footprint. Both at home and at work, are you doing everything you can to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill? The best way to do it is not produce it in the first place (take a good look at packaging for example), and then look at where it’s going if you have to use it. Could it be recycled, reused or composted? If it’s your workplace systems you’re worried about, talk to your bosses about what they could do better to support its employees to reduce their waste.
- Get educated. Knowledge is power. What’s important to you? For example, as a country, do you know how we’re going on rivers, on our carbon emissions, on the waste we’re producing? What are some better ways to do it? Arm yourself with information so you can be an advocate for the environment in your everyday life, not just every three years at election time.
As a very wise woman once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Spring may be on the horizon, but August is definitely the prime time to insulate your home or your rental. The pre-winter rush is over so you can get fast installation, you’ll be prepared for erratic temperature changes during spring, and you’ll start saving on your energy bills straight away. Aside from these points, here are the top five reasons to insulate your Wellington home now:
1. It’s cold in Wellington
The infamous Welly wind really hikes up the chill factor, with the venturi effect averaging at 22kmph, getting up to 150kmph, making it feel colder than it actually is. Wind increases during spring, so we’ll need to wrap up over the next few months. Home insulation in Wellington is the best way to get and stay warm, because it effectively puts a blanket on your home that keeps warmth and energy inside, and chilly temperatures outside.
2. Underfloor insulation can be installed in drier months
As the weather gets drier it’s much easier to install underfloor insulation and ground vapour barriers. If there is a gap of 600mm or more underneath your floorboards then we can install underfloor insulation. Even if there is only partial access available, around 13% of heat and energy is lost through the underfloor so it makes a big difference.
3. Home insulation subsidies mean low-cost insulation across the Wellington region
Only a few weeks ago the criteria for home insulation subsidies with government funding got wider, which means that tens of thousands more people can now get $1000-$2500 towards home insulation. As an approved professional insulation installer and subsidy delivery partner, we can help walk you through the process to get this low-cost insulation now, before the subsidies run out.
4. Get ready for summer with home insulation
Home insulation helps to stabilize temperatures and use energy efficiently all year around – including summer! Insulation prevents heat transfer between areas, so ceiling insulation provides a protective layer that prevents super strong UV rays overheating homes during summer, because it locks the heat in the loftspace keeping the rest of the home cool.
5. Local, expert and professional insulation installers
There are lots of new insulation companies springing up, because of the new laws for rentals and increased demand for insulation as we get closer to the deadline. This puts innocent people at risk of a bad, dangerous, or expensive job by inexperienced cowboys. I’m so proud that over the last 13 years Sustainability Trust has insulated more than 14,000 homes across the region and is the longest standing independent, professional insulation install company. With our local expertise we are confident that we can solve any home insulation challenge no matter the building type, condition or area, and our free three-year install guarantee is a badge of honour that will last far beyond the deadline frenzy.
So there you have my top tips for insulating your home or your rental this August.
If you have any questions or would like to book an install for your property then give us a call on 0508 78 7824, option 1.
As the southerly blows in with rain and sleet, pick up a hot cup of tea, and breathe. We are going to give you some tips to warm your home for under $100 (well, nearly all under $100).
V-Profile Weather Strip ($14.95) – Do your windows whistle? Can you still feel an icy draught coming through the door even when you have your deliciously warm woollens and a heater on? If so, V Strip can help you. It’s an ingenious ‘tape’ which is easy and quick to put around windows and doors.
Double doorsnake ($26) – Do your doors have a gap at the bottom? Does all the heat escape? Why not block that with a double doorsnake made by our wonderful sewing machinist at the Curtain Bank. Custom-made to width size of your door, and even to a preferred colour if you want! Draught stopping in style, eh?
Scoopy ($27) – Unfortunately New Zealand homes are notorious for condensation. Weepy windows is a norm, when it so should not be. But fear not. A reasonably priced solution is a Scoopy. True to its name it scoops your condensation leaving a drier window. And satisfaction. Believe me. Check this out!
Window Film Kits ($45/6m2 and $120/20m2) – You could go the next step up in window, condensation and draught-proofing care by using amazing DIY window insulation. Very effective and almost like double glazing, window insulation is easy to put on your windows and is so reasonable on your pocket for the efficiency they provide!
Heaters – The type of heater you use, of course, is the biggest saving you may get! We admit that many of the good ones are more than $100. But they can save you in the long run on energy costs. Preferably you want a heater with a timer and thermostat so you do not lose track of the room comfort temperature. Read/track your electricity meter before turning on the heater, then read again after half an hour of usage. Do some maths and work out how much you could save! My new heater (with timer and thermostat) has saved me $40 just in the last month.
Free home energy assessment (free or $120) – As well as all of the above you can amp up your commitment to saving yourself some energy and costs by having a free home energy assessment. Our advisors sort you out with an action plan tailored for your home. Free for Wellington city and Upper Hutt city ratepayers, $120 if you live somewhere else. If you just want some quick tips, here’s some of our free resources online.
Curtains (free for low-income households) – If you have a Community Services Card you could also be eligible for a free set of floor -length curtains to further draught proof your windows and keep you toasty and well. Here is more info on the Curtain Bank. However if you already have curtains you can get them lined by us for that extra warmth.
Whatever you do remember to create that thermal envelope around yourself and your family while keeping sneaky draughts and heat escape at bay! So stop watching the sleet, and keep warm and well and drop in to our EcoCentre in Forresters Lane (off Tory St) if you need more advice!
For the last few months it has only been landlords that have been able to access subsidies on insulation for homes. But after slow take-up by landlords, the Government has opened it up to everyone with a Community Services Card. Sustainability Trust chief executive Phil Squire talks about why it’s good news.
Some great news for low-income homeowners this week.
The Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes insulation programme that has been providing subsidies for low-income rental homes has just been expanded. Now people that own their own homes can get a 50 per cent subsidy for insulating ceilings and underfloors too.
The Warm Up NZ programme, managed by EECA, has been providing generous subsidies for low-income households since the early 2000s. The government investment makes a lot of sense on many levels – happier and healthier citizens, less hospital admissions and more time at school and work. It’s win-win-win from many perspectives.
Research that measured the benefit to cost ratio of the government investment came back at 6:1 for low-income households. That is to say, for every $1 spent on insulation there were health savings (mainly in prescriptions and hospital costs) of $6. Talk about successful social investment!
However, at the beginning of last year, Warm Up NZ fell victim to some political machinations and the total investment was slashed and retargeted to rental properties only.
This left low-income homeowners out in the cold. The Warm Up NZ rental programme was intended to encourage landlords with vulnerable tenants to get their homes insulated early (and to a high standard) prior to the insulation deadline – set by new regulations under the Residential Tenancies Act – of June 2019.
Over the past year, however, much to the surprise of the industry and EECA, there has been very little uptake by landlords. One would think that rationality would reign and if you had a legal requirement to get your rental insulated, had vulnerable tenants, and could get it done at 50% of the market cost – you’d jump in.
But this hasn’t happened. There are a variety of reasons, perhaps one being that government provided EECA with very little marketing budget so landlords could be forgiven for not being aware of the offer.
So, in order to ensure that allocated $18 million is used to benefit more householders, the Government have announced that the funding will now be available again for low-income homeowners.
An excellent call in our opinion.
Our experience in the past was that low-income homeowners formed more than 70 per cent of the uptake in Warm Up NZ, so we expect that the demand will take off very quickly and subsidies will soon be in short supply.
There are a lot of households that will qualify with the primary eligibility based on holding a Community Services Card.
Many middle-income households will be surprised to find they may meet the income threshold, for example a family with four kids and a household income of less than $85,000 will qualify.
Our advice is that if you are a homeowner and think you may be eligible for the subsidy – give us a call quick. And if you are a landlord, talk your tenants (or vice versa) as these subsidies will be going like hotcakes. We’ve already seen a spike in rental insulation enquiries and installations since the new Which landlord are you? and the Warm house, cool landlord campaigns launched last month. So to get upgraded quickly, cheaply and professionally, book with Sustainability Trust today. We always include free warm, dry homes advice for tenants, and now offer a full refund of rental assessment fees if you insulate with us.
Thanks for joining the winter mythbusting party, which this week comes live from a glacier! It’s pretty cold, which you and your home won’t be anymore if you let us help.
With this little series we are taking you through some common mis beliefs about winter, and through to the other side which is cheaper, warmer and better for you and the environment. Don’t miss part 1 from last week, with corkers such as “Insulating is an expensive upfront cost I can’t afford” and “I need thick, thermal lined curtains”
- Heat pumps are expensive to run
Not if you follow these top tips:
Use heat mode (not auto mode). The heat mode setting will raise and maintain room temperature to the capped level. In contrast, the auto mode will heat continuously and then when the room is too hot it will flip to air con mode to cool the environment. In other words, you pay to heat and cool, heat and cool, heat and cool.
Clean your filters regularly, so your heat pump is free from dust and able to heat efficiently.
Set it to a 20-22 degrees cap. Any higher is unnecessary and costs more to run. If this doesn’t feel warm enough or your energy bills are suspiciously high then your ceiling and underfloor insulation may not be to standard.
Switch off your heat pump when you go out, unless you want to keep the cats warm. If you’re out for more than 30 minutes and leave the heat pump running, you’re paying money for nothing.
- It’s winter – if we open the windows then we will freeze!
Nobody freezes in 15 minutes in the Wellington region, and that’s all you need for daily home ventilation. The process of opening the windows allows moisture-laden air to escape and be replaced with dry, fresh air. This is essential for a healthy home and to prevent damp issues, plus dry air is much easier and cheaper to heat.
Some people think that leaving the window open a crack all day does the job. Nope, you can burst that bubble. All this does is leak heat out of the home. Windows need to be open wide to create an air flow that’s strong enough to draw damp air out and dry air in. So open wide for 15 mins a day, twice a day, every day! But not when the heating is on….make sure to shut your heating off first, then switch it back on when you’ve ventilated.
- Central heating is for the mega-rich
Comfortable living is now easy, affordable and popular. Ducted heat pump systems extract, heat and transfer warm air around the entire home with low-cost tech that is far more energy efficient than traditional hot water or gas central heating systems. Book your free heating assessment today, or browse our EcoShop for our most popular models, starting at just $8,000.
We hope these tips help you know the what, how and why of warm homes in winter. If we’ve whet your appetite then get yourselves booked onto the next Warm Up for Winter workshop 5.30-7pm Wednesday 14 June.
Our superhero home energy experts David, Josh and Vishal will share their very best top tips to get your home ready for winter and cheaper to run, and we’re GIVING AWAY some of the best heaters on the market too. Tickets just $5, including competition entry. Bookings via www.sustaintrust.org.nz/events/
Stay warm and dry people.
“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”
This quote has inspired us to share and untangle some common assumptions about being warm in winter. With record numbers of enquiries, property assessments and home energy product sales, it’s time for a recap on how to be warm, dry and energy efficient. Check back again next week for more myths debunked.
- Insulating my home/rental is an expensive upfront cost I can’t afford
Ratepayers can pay just $20-30/month for insulation with a rates loan from GWRC. It’s a fantastic and safe way to access up to $3,900 for insulation costs, repayable over max. 9 years via your property rates. It takes around a fortnight for the paperwork to come through, so you can warm up and save on bills quickly with install asap thereafter. This has to be Wellington region’s best kept secret!
Alternatively we offer a short term 0% interest loan repayable over 6 -12 months, across our insulation, heating, ventilation and LED downlight supply and install services. A great way to have a bit more time to pay off what you need now. Find out more about these repayment plans.
Don’t forget – insulation costs are quickly offset by improved health, comfort and quality of life. As insulation now lasts around 50 years and is a legal requirement for all rentals by July 2019, this is a crucial long term investment for any homeowner and is much more affordable than you think.
- The subsidies have run out (or I’m not eligible)
Not true! There are a limited number of subsidies still available, but only until June 2018. Once they are gone, they are gone!
If you are renting have a Community Services Card then your landlord may be able to get half price insulation with Government funding. If you own your own home and have a Community Services Card, then you may also be able to get funding of up to 50%from Sustainability Trust and our partners to help pay for insulation. If you think you could apply then do it, now, before they run out!
Psst – eligible homeowners can get both special offers – half price insulation and put the rest of the costs onto one of the above repayment plans, making insulation even more affordable. Contact us today to find out more.
- Heating? Insulation? Just put an extra jumper on!
A jumper will warm up your body, but the actual temperature inside your home needs heat to prevent moisture and housing-related health issues. If a room is cold and damp then it will cause mould and dust mites, which can lead to serious health issues like pneumonia, asthma and rheumatic fever. Sadly, over one in four Kiwis suffers from asthma, and your home environment is the number one way to prevent and treat poor health.
Bedrooms and living areas should be 18-21 degrees C, according to the WHO. As a general guide, most New Zealand homes built before 1978 need ceiling and underfloor insulation, fixed heating in the living space and radiant heaters in the bedroom, to counteract the problems caused by poor building construction standards. The quality, thickness and fit of insulation is crucial, as well as the size and type of heating.
Want to know more? Then register for a Warm up for winter workshop, book a home assessment with one of our experts, or read EECA’s home heating info guide. If you have a housing related health issue then you may be be to get extra help from Warm Fuzzies.
- I need thick, thermal lined curtains but they are are hard to get and expensive
Thermal backing make little or no difference to heat retention. Call it an old wives tale, mistake or assumption, put simply it’s wrong. What matters is multiple layers of fabric that trap air and create a barrier between the curtains and the window. So the perfect recipe for curtains is good quality curtain material, which is lined with at least one layer of fabric – simple cotton will do the job. The fit too is crucial, as curtains need to fully cover windows including top and bottom, ideally floor length with a pelmet too.
We offer a Curtain and Tailoring Service for paying customers, so get in touch today to get your curtains lined or to commission a full set. All profits are invested into free curtains for Community Services Card holders via the Wellington Curtain Bank, so that’s amazing quality for your home, whilst helping others too.
We hope this has helped you to see the light. Check back again next week for more common assumptions debunked, or feel free to get in touch for personalised advice and a property assessment.