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ENERGY STAR set to end

The ENERGY STAR scheme, whose mark can be found on products and appliances that have superior energy efficiency, is to end in December 2017.

Products and appliances that carry the ENERGY STAR label range from windows, solar water heaters and heat pumps through to washing machines, dishwashers and fridge/freezers.

When it announced the end of the scheme, EECA (the government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) said that while public recognition of the label was high, it wasn’t leading to more people buying high performing products.

Market research revealed that people want more in-depth information, such as the comparison of running costs that is behind the Energy Rating Labels on appliances. EECA is responding by developing an online tool to help people find energy efficient products that includes performance considerations.


Smarter Homes website relaunched

The New Zealand website Smarter Homes, with information about sustainable building for consumers and building professionals, has been relaunched.

Smarter Homes is administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in partnership with Beacon Pathway. Its non-technical and accessible presentation makes it ideal as a resource for homeowners looking to build or renovate.

The website covers a wide range of topics, from choosing a site for a new home through to decisions around design, construction materials, water and waste and energy use.

The site was originally created several years ago, but has been relaunched with updated content and new design.


Standard for renewable energy battery systems

A new standard is being developed for battery systems used with photovoltaic and other renewable energy systems.

The draft standard is DR AS/NZS 5139:2017 Electrical installations—Safety of battery systems for use with power conversion equipment. Existing standard do not cover recent developments, which Standards New Zealand notes include:

  • Newer battery systems such as lithium technologies (lithium ion, lithium iron phosphate), flow technologies (zinc bromine, vanadium redox flow) and hybrid ion technologies.
  • New developments such as multiple-mode inverters. These can result in batteries being continually connected to the grid, and also include a PV or other energy source as an integrated system. 

  • Significant falls in the costs of battery systems, resulting in use with more applications and a wider uptake, including in houses. 

The new standard contains a lot of information to boost the level of knowledge and understanding. It looks at risks that may be associated with battery systems, and specifies installation methods that eliminate or reduce risk.

The new standard is based on (and supercedes) an Australian standard, AS 4086.2—1997.  

The closing date for comment on the new standard is 15 August 2017. The details are available here.