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Why the thermal efficiency deficiency?

Advertising Feature 9 November 2010 9

[First filed: Nov 3, 2010 @ 11:00]

insulated

Despite being subject to drastically varying temperatures throughout the year, Canberra homes like most of Australia, are typically under insulated. It’s easy to establish an argument that poor building and energy efficiency standards in the past have resulted in the poorly insulated housing stock we have today. However, identifying the barriers that home owners face in upgrading their home’s insulation is a slightly more challenging task.

Surely it isn’t education – you’d be hard pressed to find a person on the street that wasn’t aware that insulation can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. So perhaps the barrier is cost?… Peter Garrett and the Labour Government certainly thought so; however they tragically overlooked a major detail when they rolled out their insulation rebate program.

The failed federal insulation rebate highlighted, in the most tragic of circumstances, the lack of insulation retrofitting expertise in the Australian labour force. Retrofitting insulation (installing new insulation in an existing building) involves a completely different skill set and risk profile compared to installation of insulation in new homes. Unlike in new home installations where the insulation installer is all done before plaster linings are installed, insulation retrofitters have to work in a completely finished environment, with all the building’s services connected and running through their workspace and quite possibly an environment subject to excessive heat along with decades of dust, debris and pest build up.

A lack of formal scrutiny in the past has allowed a culture to develop of insulation installation being a task for a labourer rather than a professional. Whilst this may be a suitable culture for the new home market to have, it isn’t welcome in the more complex retrofitting market.
Aside from the obvious safety concerns, incorrectly installed insulation simply doesn’t work. Gaps of merely 5% in a cover of ceiling insulation can result in almost a 50% reduction in efficiency. Choosing a professional insulation retrofitter is far more important than choosing pink over yellow batts and vice versa.

The good news is there is an insulation company in Canberra that specialises in retrofitting insulation and the ACT government continue to offer their $500 EnergyWise rebate through the Home Energy Advice Team.

At Vac to the Future we specialise in removing and replacing insulation in existing homes. We can install ceiling, wall and floor insulation along with draft sealing and ventilation solutions. To find out more about insulation retrofitting, the $500 ACT EnergyWise rebate and how Vac to the Future can help make your home comfortable, safe and energy efficient, call 02 6254 5715 or visit www.vactothefuture.com


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9 Responses to Why the thermal efficiency deficiency?
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VacToTheFuture VacToTheFuture 3:30 pm 10 Mar 11

richardh9935 said :

Without a carbon tax (not just a trading scheme), people won’t do anything. The cost and bother of doing small jobs on a house is too much. ie Coal-fired power is relatively too cheap, and costs are high. And I disagree about the public understanding the benefits. All “we” want is to be left in the same level of comfort as they had last year, with as little change as possible.

Didn’t Steve Jobs say, when discussing the iPad, “the customer is not responsible for knowing what they want.”

It’s interesting that you mention that the cost and bother is too much… With a savings payback period of less than 5 years for the majority of our ceiling and wall insulation upgrades, it would seem that these costs are quite reasonable. Carbon tax or not, there is no disputing that energy costs will to continue to rise and that Canberra will still be damn cold in winter and toasty in summer. I’m not quite sure if everyone would be happy with the same as they had last year as in so many cases what they had last year was atrocious!

Insulation isn’t a bother. It’s a common sense component that every house should have to ensure comfort and energy efficiency. The public is aware of the benefits, however we bring in the Steve Job’s approach in making sure that the customer wants and understands the benefits of having the right insulation installed rather than having something sitting in their house as no more than a token gesture.

richardh9935 richardh9935 8:26 pm 25 Feb 11

Without a carbon tax (not just a trading scheme), people won’t do anything. The cost and bother of doing small jobs on a house is too much. ie Coal-fired power is relatively too cheap, and costs are high. And I disagree about the public understanding the benefits. All “we” want is to be left in the same level of comfort as they had last year, with as little change as possible.

Didn’t Steve Jobs say, when discussing the iPad, “the customer is not responsible for knowing what they want.”

kean van choc kean van choc 6:52 pm 25 Feb 11

Hi riot folk. We’re looking at getting Vac To The Future to instal some roof insulation – has anyone else out there in riot world used them? If you have, I’d certainly appreciate hearing abut your experience. If you haven’t, but you’ve used another good insulation installer, I’d certainly like to hear about that as well.

Cheers.

VacToTheFuture VacToTheFuture 5:05 pm 11 Nov 10

m@ said :

It makes financial sense for owner/occupiers to insulate but why would a landlord spend money insulating a property when the cost of heating/cooling can simply be passed onto the tenant?

You’re dead right, landlord’s can currently put the burden of inefficiency on their tenants and still charge whatever they deem to be market rent. However, this won’t be the case for long…

Apparently there are some members of the ACT Home Energy Advice team working with a few other organisations and govt departments pushing for the implementation of compulsory disclosure of Energy Ratings for all rental listings to bring them in line with the requirements placed on sales listings. Hopefully some transparency in regards to the energy efficiency ratings of rentals will have a material impact on the rent that landlord’s can charge and give them an incentive to invest in insulation and other basic measures.

m@ m@ 12:38 pm 08 Nov 10

I reckon the biggest hurdle is the high proportion of properties that are rentals and the extremely low vacancy rate. It makes financial sense for owner/occupiers to insulate but why would a landlord spend money insulating a property when the cost of heating/cooling can simply be passed onto the tenant?

VacToTheFuture VacToTheFuture 12:47 pm 04 Nov 10

James-T-Kirk said :

Yep – I can see people being happy for a professional to do this work at professional rates… probably about $300 per hour!

Of course it will always be a job for a labourer, it can’t be anything else – We just have to make sure that the labourers are appropriately trained to recognise power cables when they see them… ..

$300 per hour hour might be a bit steep but you have certainly hit the nail on the head in mentioning that the “labourers” have to be properly trained to look out for power cables and other safety hazards.

Though don’t forget about being trained in how to do the job properly either… your everyday run of the mill labourer wouldn’t be overly fussed if they left a few gaps through your nice new cover of batts. But bearing in mind that only a 5% gap in your insulation can result in almost a 50% reduction in efficiency, it highlights why it is so important to get the right person to do the job.

James-T-Kirk James-T-Kirk 10:10 am 04 Nov 10

“A lack of formal scrutiny in the past has allowed a culture to develop of insulation installation being a task for a labourer rather than a professional. Whilst this may be a suitable culture for the new home market to have, it isn’t welcome in the more complex retrofitting market.”

Yep – I can see people being happy for a professional to do this work at professional rates… probably about $300 per hour!

Of course it will always be a job for a labourer, it can’t be anything else – We just have to make sure that the labourers are appropriately trained to recognise power cables when they see them… ..

VacToTheFuture VacToTheFuture 4:59 pm 03 Nov 10

cmdwedge said :

Really interested in your services, but most of your website links simply say ‘coming soon’. Guess I will have to ring.

Great to hear that we may be of service. Our new website has just gone live and new sections are literally being added by the minute. Feel free to give us a call or even drop in and see us at the Weetangera shops, we’re in the Entire Energy Efficiency building next door to the bakery.

cmdwedge cmdwedge 11:51 am 03 Nov 10

Really interested in your services, but most of your website links simply say ‘coming soon’. Guess I will have to ring.

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