Home' Greymouth Star : March 31st 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Heat pumps are not only energy-efficient
ways to keep homes warm, but half the
respondents in a survey also believe they
have other health benefits.
Of 856 people surveyed by consumer satisfaction
ratings company Canstar Blue, 53% said they had
noticed improved health since installing a heat
Eighty-nine per cent of respondents bought
energy-efficient heat pumps, with half of people
saying the machines had reduced their power bills
and 88% saying they had made their homes drier
and easier to heat.
When broken down into regions, the survey
conducted for Canstar by Colmar Brunton
Australia - showed Aucklanders especially felt the
health benefits of heat pumps, with 71% noticing
Of Auckland respondents, 87% said the
machines were now a “must have” in any home
they owned — compared with the 79% — and
93% of Bay of Plenty respondents bought energy-
efficient models. Canstar New Zealand general
manager Derek Bonnar said people were reaping
the benefits of the easy heating options.
“Many are even seeing improvements in their
health, even if their homes were insulated prior to
the heat pump’s installation,” he said.
According to World Health Organisation
research, homes should be heated above 18C to
ensure healthy conditions.
Mr Bonnar said: “More than a third of Kiwi heat
pump owners are feeling the economic pinch,
having to resort to reducing their spending on
other items so they can afford to pay their power
However, only 31% of those surveyed had used
government subsidies to buy their machines.
The Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes
government subsidy programme offers free
ceiling and underfloor insulation for low-income
households occupied by people with health needs
related to cold, damp housing.
Survey respondents rated Mitsubishi Electric
as the preferred brand, followed by Daiken and
Fujitsu, taking into account reliability, efficiency,
value for money and other factors.
*New units create warmer, drier house
In just three months, two heat pumps have
stopped mould spots and made living far more
comfortable for one Auckland family.
The Cox family installed two energy-efficient
Panasonic heat pumps into their Howick home in
July and although they had not noticed less winter
illness, they were impressed with the easy heating
“It’s fantastic, we were in a house with no heating
at all for about three years,” graphic artist Rob Cox
said. “It is a pretty sunny house though, so it wasn’t
a major, but the big difference was that the winter
chills have gone.”
A timer system meant the family of five,
including three kindergarten and school-aged
children, could wake up to a warm house and
there was no noticeable difference to power bills,
“I haven’t noticed any significant power bill
increase. It might be a little bit, but not enough to
make me think that we have to keep it on low or
how many hours we have got the pump on for.”
Mr Cox also said the house was definitely drier
“I had noticed last year we might have had a
couple of spots of mould in a couple of places and
I haven’t seen that any more.”
The family chose their model after it was
recommended by relatives.
Home truths about benefits
Calculating your daily energy use is the
key to minimising the payoff time for
installing solar power in the home.
Late last year the power companies paying a
buy-back rate for excess power produced from
small-scale solar installations and fed back into
the national grid dropped their rates with the
coordination of synchronised swimmers.
Did it change the equation?
Not really. While it would be nice for your solar
panels to be earning 25c/kWh while you’re on
holidays for those four weeks a year, the solar
equation now comes down to offsetting your
regular daytime use.
If you’re at home all day, your energy
requirements increase, making a larger solar array
feasible. If you’re not, your requirements come
down to heating your hot water, keeping the
fridges running, and any other appliances you can
set to operate during sunlight hours. Calculating
your daily energy use and choosing an array just
large enough to offset it, is the key to minimising
the payoff time for your system, which should be
no more than eight years.
That calculation also doesn’t take into account
the depressingly regular increases in the price of
That same system will continue to produce
power for a minimum of 25 years, and probably
30. With all this in mind, it makes sense to lower
your home’s energy requirements first, before
calculating what sized solar array you need. Here’s
how you do it.
LED lighting is a revolution in energy efficiency.
With lighting making up, on average, eight per
cent of a home’s energy use, this energy cost can
be cut by at least 80 per cent.
On a power bill of $250, $22 will be spent on
lighting with traditional incandescent bulbs.
Replace them all with LEDs, and you’re looking at
more like $4.50.
Of course, it has limited impact during the day
when lights aren’t needed so much, but it pays
dividends at the power bill.
HOT WATER HEATING
The efficiencies gained from the coupling of a
solar array and a heat pump water heater (HPWH),
which transfers the warmth in the air to your water,
can only be described as a match made in heaven.
With hot water making up at least one third of an
electricity bill, a HPWH alone will slash that cost
by two thirds, and adding solar power to the mix
should effectively halve it again.
An ‘all-in-one’ HPWH can be installed as a retrofit
for between $3000 and $4000, and for between
$2500 and $3500 in a new build. Some HPWH
models can also be set to heat water during
sunlight hours and keep hot water ready to use
during evening or early morning - ideal for solar
generation or cheap daytime grid electricity.
INSULATION AND HEATING
On a frosty but clear day in winter the thought
that your solar panels are running your efficient
heat pump will certainly warm the cockles. But
consider that a well-insulated home, with draft
proofing measures throughout, double glazing
and thermal curtains, will decrease the amount of
heat needed to bring the room to a comfortable
temperature. Heating throughout winter
generally makes up one third of a power bill, so
any inroads which can be made can make a very
HEATED TOWEL RAILS
These innocuous little appliances are a 24-hour
draw on your power and the best thing you can
do is to have an electrician install a timer switch.
With a solar system installed, it makes sense to
have them come on when the sun is high in the
sky, but that will only work to dry towels after your
morning shower, and not your evening bath. A
damp towel will dry on a heated towel rail in less
than four hours, after which your timer can switch
it off for the night.
Now that your home is as energy efficient as
possible, it’s time to figure out your energy usage
during the sunlight hours, so that you can choose
the correct-sized solar array. Your solar installer
will be able to help here. Other considerations
include whether you plan to purchase an electric
vehicle in the next decade or two. For this reason
you may like to have spare capacity in your
inverter (the unit which converts DC solar power
in AC power suitable for your appliances) for more
panels in future, or whether you opt for micro
inverters (which can fit under the panels and be
This editorial series is made possible with
funding from Energy Alternatives. To find out
more about energy efficient products visit
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