Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Green insulation policy

The government has released the details of its home insulation policy in the leadup to tomorrow's Budget, and its actually good. Currently home-owners earning less than $100,000 a year can get a grant of up to $1125 covering up to a third of the costs of installing insulation or energy-efficient appliances, or an interest-free loan covering the full cost. The government will apparently dispense with means-testing and increase the grant to $1500. The downside is that the loans will no longer be interest-free, but will instead be offered through a variety of providers, with the government as a facilitator. Since most people go for a grant rather than a loan, that's no real disadvantage - and it will likely mean more city councils operating solar (or heat pump) mortgage schemes through household rates (tying the cost of improving energy efficiency to the property, rather than the present owner - thus avoiding mobility as a disincentive), which is a Good Thing.

This is basically the Greens payback for their agreement with National. And given how little they have had to give away to get it, it seems to have been well worth it.

Home insulation isn't just an energy efficiency measure - it's a public health measure. And from society's perspective, it pays for itself in health benefits (reduced hospital costs, fewer sick days) alone. At present, it is criminally underfunded. Hopefully this policy will change that.