Millions of homes to get free insulation

Nearly three million homes in Australia will be given free ceiling insulation as part of a package of measures to make homes more energy efficient.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced that 2.7m homes would be included in the scheme to “set Australia up for a low carbon future” and cut about $200 a year off household energy bills.

It is also hoped that the investment will help to protect the jobs of tradespeople and workers in the insulation industry during the global recession.

The government estimates the scheme will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 50m tonnes by 2020 – equivalent to taking more than a million cars off the road.

The Energy Efficient Homes scheme is a key part of the government’s $42bn Nation Building and Jobs Plan to support up to 90,000 Australian jobs over the next two years.

Currently, up to 40% of Australia’s housing stock remains uninsulated.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett denied criticisms from the Green Party that the government was just “tinkering about at the edges”.

Speaking on ABC Newsradio, he said: “I think that it’s one of the most significant measures in what was a very significant package.

“And that’s because experts have long recognised that installing ceiling insulation is one of the most cost effective ways that you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also energy bills.

“We reckon that there’s about a 40% potential for cost savings for energy bills for householders.”

Eligible owner-occupiers who install ceiling insulation themselves before the scheme begins in July will be able to claim a reimbursement of up to $1,600.

Another part of the Energy Efficient Homes investment plan will see the Solar Hot Water Rebate increased from $1,000 to $1,600.

Government will also increase the Low Emissions Plan for Renters Rebate – which pays for landlords to install insulation in their rental properties – from $500 to $1,000 until June 2011.

It is estimated that 500,000 rented homes will benefit from the programme.

Kate Martin

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