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Making Wellington homes warmer, drier and more energy-efficient

Sustainability Trust offers a full supply and installation service for all types of heating
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Tackling a hard-to-reach aspect of carbon emissions – the home – motivates Wellington City Council to keep funding Home Energy Saver Assessments for its ratepayers.

Tom Pettit, sustainability manager at Wellington City Council, says the assessments aim to both reduce and save energy use.

The assessments, delivered by Sustainability Trust, give home-owners an impartial action plan to make their homes warmer, drier and more energy-efficient.

About 500 households take up the offer each year.

Tom says the assessments also support the Council’s aspiration to be a low-carbon capital.

“It supports our aspiration to be a low carbon capital because stationary energy – ie electricity and gas – is the second-biggest source of greenhouse gases in the city after our transport emissions.

The programme reduces energy use, reduces carbon emissions, and also creates an environment where less energy is wasted and bills are lower – contributing to financial savings.

“Given the multitude of benefits and the way the programme targets a hard-to-reach aspect of emissions, we’ve continued it since 2010.”

One person whose house was assessed had this to say.

“Even though it has taken us some time to implement some of the changes, this was definitely the instigator of these and we continue to refer back to the suggestion plan – even two years down the track.”

The Home Energy Saver Assessment is free for Wellington city ratepayers. Anyone else in the region can book the assessment for a subsidised rate of $250 (RRP $350).

The assessment takes about two hours. It looks at everything that affects how energy-efficient a home is, and what can be done to make it better, warmer and drier.

A whole of house approach

The Wellington-based Sustainability Trust’s qualified home performance advisers look at levels of insulation, the energy-efficiency of lighting, ventilation, heating sources, moisture issues, water use, energy use and draughts. It’s a whole-house approach based on building science and eco-design principles.

Craig Auty, left, and Vishal Gurudutt work for Sustainability Trust

Advisers also give advice and tips on the spot so people can start creating a more energy-efficient home right away.

They then provide a personalised action plan to help the owner create a more energy-efficient home. This helps to prioritise changes that will have the biggest impact first. They also recommend products and provide quotes.

They suggest only products that are right for the home and the environment, and that will maximise energy efficiency.

It’s best to book in advance as wait times can be up to four weeks for an assessment.

Another free service the trust runs for people in the Wellington region is the Warm, Dry Home Assessment. It takes about an hour and looks at levels of insulation, home heating, ventilation and energy-efficiency.

A short action plan is provided to help create a more energy-efficient home, including product recommendations and quotes.

Trust origins

Sustainability Trust is a social enterprise based in Forresters Lane, off Tory Street, in central Wellington. It grew out of environmentalists talking to people at Porirua’s Trash Palace in 2003 about ways to reduce their waste and live in balance with the environment.

The following year the Government began funding insulation to create healthier, more energy-efficient homes for low-income families. The trust applied to become a partner. Now it insulates about 900 homes every year.

Steady growth since 2004 has allowed the trust to refit a central Wellington space to create a warm and busy EcoCentre, which houses staff and volunteers who focus on supporting people to reduce their impact on the environment.

The trust funds this work and its other award-winning community programmes with profits from the sale and installation of energy-efficient heating, lighting, ventilation and insulation.

The trust offers an inner-city drop-off point for e-waste, and takes bicycles and car seats in partnership with community organisations who repurpose them. Its staff believe sustainability is an investment, and work to make sure that everyone has access to trust services regardless of their income.

Good-quality curtains donated by the public are available free to families with a Community Services Card via the Wellington Curtain Bank run from Sustainability Trust

At the heart of its operations are Wellington Curtain Bank and Warm Fuzzies – services for families on low incomes who need a hand warming up their homes, not just for the environment, but for their health.

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For more information:

Go to the sustainability trust website click here 

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