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Government rebates will encourage sustainability

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Policy

Money in wallet

Making sustainable choices easier: Australian households will be eligible to receive rebates on solar hot water, insulation, grewater treatment systems and rain water tanks.

Credit: Martin Kingsley

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If passed, financial barriers to sustainable living are set to be broken by the Rudd Government's $42 billion economic stimulus package.

The recession-busting plan, which after passing through the Lower House of Parliament today will face the Senate next Thursday, includes significant rebates for key energy-efficient initiatives in the home.

Under the Energy Efficient Homes Program, Australian households currently without insulation would be eligible for a rebate of up to $1,600 for its supply and installation. Rental properties would also be able to be outfitted, with a rebate of up to $1,000 to be offered to landlords.

Proper insulation is important in the natural heating and cooling of a home, helping cut back on the energy use of heaters and air conditioners. It can keep the average house as much as seven degrees cooler in summer.

The stimulus package also bumps the current solar hot water rebate from $1,000 up to $1,600, to help households make the switch to sustainable solar energy from existing electric systems.

"Solar hot water is the single best thing people can do in this economic market to help reduce energy consumption in the home and reduce electricity costs," said Romano Bolzon from EcoSmart Hot Water, noting that electric systems are the highest household emitter of greenhouse gas emissions and heavy user of electricity, consuming up to 35 per cent of domestic household energy use.

"There is virtually no additional cost to save tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as save...hundreds of dollars a year on energy bills."

To encourage the uptake of solar hot water technology, the Government will also remove the requirement for means testing - so families can now claim the full rebate no matter what their combined household income (provided they have not already applied for the Insulating Australian Households rebate).

And in a further incentive for the switch, solar hot water customers would still be entitled to Renewable Energy Certificates and existing state-based rebates, which brings the total value of the rebates available up to $4200, depending on the state.

The National Rainwater and Greywater Initiative, announced last week, also means many Australian households are currently eligible for a rebate of up to $500 for the purchase and installation of a rainwater tank for internal (toilet or laundry) use, or a permanent greywater treatment system.

The $250 million initiative will provide financial support "to help households save precious drinking water," said Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong.

Currently, in most capital cities less than 10 per cent of households have rainwater tanks, Senator Wong said, with a 40 per cent presence in Adelaide being the exception.