Environment or Green issues are holding more political sway every year and the major parties are realising that paying attention to voters’ desires for a more sustainable future is in their best interest. The general public and the government are starting to embrace the opportunity to reduce impact on the environment whilst mobilising a huge workforce more reliant on people than machinery. What better place to start than with individuals.
The Green Loans program which commenced on July 1 2009, is a federal government initiative aimed at educating and assisting Australian householders in making their homes more sustainable and more comfortable. How to reduce energy costs, water costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are also a key aspect of the program. In combination with other Federal Government and State Government initiatives there are a lot of opportunities for householders to save money and reduce their reliance on fossil fuel based energy.
Unlike some government initiatives which seem to target traditional families, the Green Loans program is available to all Australian householders whatever their orientation or home structure.
There are two main components to the Green Loans program. The first is the Home Sustainability Assessment Scheme (HSAS) and the second is the Green Loans subsidy. Homeowners and renters in all types of residential dwelling are eligible so long as the householder booking the assessment owns the home or is on the lease (for renters only), is an Australian citizen and earns less than $250,000 per annum.
The Home Sustainability Assessment (HSA) is a free comprehensive home assessment performed by an independent expert assessor and is the first step in accessing a range of rebates aimed at reducing environmental impact and building a cleaner more efficient future. The assessment identifies where the householder can reduce their energy and water bills, increase the comfort of their home and help reduce damaging carbon pollution from GHG emissions.
During the assessment the assessor should also give advice and answer questions relating to the householders areas of interest and specific environmental concerns. Following the assessment the data collected is then uploaded by the assessor onto the Green Loans website and a report is generated.
In approximately two weeks the householder will receive the report indicating in which areas the home is efficient and in which areas improvements can be made. From this report a list of specific recommendations are made for improving the homes efficiency. Some of these recommendations may include: buying a new energy efficient fridge, washing machine or dryer; purchasing a solar hot water system; installing a rainwater tank; buying a hydronic heater, purchasing external shading devices or internal blinds; installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and installing thermal insulation in the roof.
The householder can then apply for a Green Loan to install any of the recommendations listed in the report. The Green Loan is up to $10,000, interest free for four years. The loan is from an approved financial institution and the government pays the interest. There is no obligation to apply for the Green Loan and you can only purchase items from the list of recommendations. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter there will be something suitable on the list that will lower your environmental footprint.
The $1,200 Federal Government rebate for ceiling insulation has been extended to December 31, 2011. There are also rebates available for solar hot water and rainwater tanks. There are also rebates available through the Solar Homes and Communities Plan on small scale PV, wind and hydro electricity systems for households and small businesses.
On top of all this the NSW government has just started the Gross Feed in Tariff for small scale solar and wind energy systems. This means that householders and small businesses installing a solar PV or wind system connected to the grid will be paid at a rate of sixty cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for every kWh generated. This is a rate more than twice what most people are currently paying for coal fired power. With an interest free loan, the Solar Credits rebate and the Gross Feed in Tariff, such a system will pay for itself in a couple of years and everything from then on will be pure green profit so to speak.
With all the rebates and assistance there has never been a better time to make your home more efficient, cheaper to run and to minimise your GHG emissions. Booking your free HAS is a great place to start.
Unfortunately though with all these funds available there are some operators who are in it strictly for the money. The insulation scheme has had some real problems with sub standard installations and a number of companies have been taken off the list of approved installers as a result. The Green Loans program has attracted a lot of assessors working for companies whose primary aim is to encourage you to take up the insulation and solar rebates using them as installers. Assessments from these companies will probably leave you feeling as though you haven’t learned much at all. This is a shame as a lot of people such as myself are passionate about sustainable living and have tried to practice these principles in all areas of our lives for a long time. It is fantastic that such people can earn money by doing what they love, developing better communities through healthier homes and further education.
The Home Sustainability Assessors are supposed to be independent meaning they are contractually obliged not to sell you anything such as insulation or solar installation services during the assessment. During the assessment assessors are only able to provide additional services if:
- They have prior written consent from the government department to do so,
- If the service is free to you,
- If it is relevant to the assessment,
- If it does not detract from the original service, and
- If it is not conditional upon a commercial activity.
They are supposed to wait seven days before contacting you to discuss the possibility of going forward with any further options.
The best assessors will be able to give you sound advice on minimising the environmental impact resulting from any area of your home, personal or work life. They will follow up with you at a later date and if appropriate will recommend reputable companies that can provide you with quality products and expert assistance in applying for the various solar and insulation rebates you may be eligible for.
By choosing an assessor who is working in this field to help Australian people contribute to their community and achieve a more sustainable lifestyle you will gain all the benefits and education these schemes are designed to provide. You will also gain valuable information about how to make more sustainable choices in the future.
Book your FREE Home Sustainability Assessment now with Richard Nicol from Building Green Business at: http://buildinggreenbusiness.net/