Free heat pumps installed in Christchurch homes with broken chimneys may turn out to be a Trojan Horse. Without sufficient insulation, people may be inviting skyrocketing power bills in at the same time.
“The plan for those free heat pumps seems not to have been thought through very well,” says Bede Martin, Chief Executive of Community Energy Action Charitable Trust, a community organisation which has been working and advocating for warm homes for the last 16 years.
“We understand that funding is being discussed to provide extra money for people who cannot afford their power bill after a free heat pump was installed.” Mr Martin, says. “This is money down the drain. If good insulation was installed at the same time as a heat pump, power bills wouldn’t soar, not just this year but for many years to come. A heat pump combined with insulation is a really good form of heating for many people. Putting in insulation just makes sense and we should at least assist the most vulnerable people - the elderly, the sick and those with small children – get it installed.”
“With ceiling and underfloor insulation, window insulation and good thermal or lined curtains, people can be confident about keeping warm with a heat pump without going broke and it will help restrict demand on the fragile electricity supply.”
Community Energy Action advises people to check their website www.cea.co.nz or contact them at 374 7222 if they think they need better insulation, or their Home Energy Advice line at 0800 388 588 if they are worried about power bills or keeping warm this winter. “We are a charitable trust and try to help everyone regardless of income.”
Community Energy Action has also set up a dedicated webpage on issues to do with the earthquake, insulation and heating (www.cea.co.nz/earthquake).
Community Energy Action has installed insulation in more than 16,000 homes in Canterbury since 1994, many of those in the homes of low income households with extra funding from surpluses, funders and sponsors. They also provide an affordable form of window insulation and free recycled curtains (service closed until new premises found) to those in need and run a free advice line on home energy issues (0800 388 588).