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More choice, better access to Rotorua air clean-up scheme

Thursday, 9 August 2012 1:00 p.m.

Rotorua home owners now have more choices to upgrade their old wood burners and open fires to cleaner heating methods under Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Hot Swap scheme.

Hot Swap is an interest-free loan of up to $4600 including GST, paid off over 10 years, to help homeowners and landlords upgrade old solid fuel burners to cleaner heating systems. From 1 July 2012 residents have had a larger product range to choose from, and other changes, including a rates remission policy and subsidies for home insulation, make the scheme more affordable for low-income households.

The Hot Swap scheme has so far helped 865 homeowners upgrade to clean heat, which is estimated to have removed more than seven tonnes of fine particulates from Rotorua's air. 

In total, efforts by Housing New Zealand and Bay of Plenty Regional Council have removed about 2100 non-compliant wood burners in Rotorua since 2005, removing more than 13 tonnes of fine particulates from the air.

Regional Council Strategy General Manager Fiona McTavish said the Council had received feedback that homeowners wanted more choice of products under the scheme, so more options had been added, and the scheme was made more accessible for low-income families.

Home owners can now include costs for disconnecting wetbacks (where the wood burner also heats hot water) in their loan application. When the Hot Swap scheme was launched in August 2010 concerns over liability issues when wetbacks were disconnected meant these costs were not able to be covered under this loan scheme. 

"Ensuring low-income households are able to apply for affordable options to upgrade to clean heat is a priority for the Regional Council," Ms McTavish said. 

"To further help low-income households any ratepayer who is eligible for Central Government's rates rebate (a rates subsidy for low-income homeowners) will have their Hot Swap loan repayment waived for each year that they are eligible for the rates rebate.  

"This means that groups in our community such as pensioners could have a clean heat upgrade that is fully funded over the 10 years."

Home owners and landlords whose tenants have community service cards may also be eligible for up to 60 percent off the cost of their insulation and up to $2000 towards their heating. Costs for insulation and clean heat upgrades above these subsidies can be put on the Hot Swap loan up to the loan limit of $4600.

"Offering insulation alongside clean heat as part of the Hot Swap scheme provides great gains for our air quality but also provides healthier homes," Ms McTavish said.

Some changes have also been made to some of the service providers contracted to help install clean heating, and some providers have changed the services they provide. The Hot Swap website www.hotswap.co.nz has been redesigned, making it easier for homeowners to find a service provider, product category or product, which now have prices attached.

To request a free home heating assessment call 0800 Hot Swap (0800 468 792), visit www.hotswap.co.nz or call one of the Regional Council's service providers.

Background information:

What is the Rotorua Hot Swap?

-          An interest-free home heating assessment and loan of up to $4600 including GST offered to Rotorua ratepayers in the central city loan zone, to convert old wood burners and open fires to a clean heat appliance. A clean heat appliance is an energy star heat pump, Australian Gas Association-rated flued gas heater, pellet fire or approved wood burner.

-          Loans are paid off over 10 years.

-          The Hot Swap scheme was launched in August 2010, to help clean up Rotorua's air, which regularly exceeds the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality.

-          Poor air quality particularly affects the young, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions like asthma.

-          The main cause of Rotorua's poor air quality is particulates from inefficient home heating.

-          The Hot Swap scheme is an integral part of the Rotorua Air Quality Action Plan to meet the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality.

-          To meet the air standards we need to remove 60 tonnes of fine particulates from Rotorua's air.

Updated Hot Swap service clean heat service providers as of 1 July 2012 (PDF, 206kb)

Ends

Woodshed lowres