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Insulation grants scheme expanded

The Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes insulation grants scheme has been extended to include low-income homeowners.

The grants pay for half the cost of ceiling and underfloor insulation for low-income homeowners (as well as low-income tenants who are already eligible). The money will be available until the end of June 2018.

To be eligible, homeowners must be living in a home built before the year 2000 and hold a Community Services Card.

Since its inception, the Warm Up New Zealand insulation grants scheme has insulated around 300,000 homes. Originally due to end in June 2016, the scheme was extended in the 2016 Budget with $18 million allocated until the end of June 2018.

Government data suggests that the avoided health costs from for Community Services Card holders getting their homes insulated are on average $854 a year.

There are certain insulation providers involved in the scheme in each region. Details can be found here.

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Homestar V4 launched

Version 4 of the Homestar efficiency rating tool has been officially launched.

The new easier-to-use version of the Homestar tool is now in place. The tool measures efficiency of New Zealand houses and apartments, encouraging the construction of warmer, drier, healthier homes. It rates homes on a scale up to 10.

The tool can be applied to both plans and to a finished home. The areas it considers include site, materials, waste, energy, health and comfort, water and home management.

The New Zealand Green Building Council launched the first version of Homestar in 2011. The latest version, refined after industry input, streamlines the assessment process.

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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.