Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1615 ..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
support the conservation council's targets of 80 per cent of houses to have solar hot water systems by 2015. We strongly supported the recent reference to the Planning and Environment Committee on renewable energy.
While we are looking at energy efficiency, I would like to refer members to a report published in April this year by Energy Partners which shows that an average family of four that currently use an off-peak electric-boosted hot water system, by converting to a solar hot water system, would save something like 13,294 megajoules per year and would cut emissions of greenhouse gasses, carbon dioxide in particular, from 4.8 tonnes for electric hot water to 1.2 tonnes for electric-boosted solar hot water. In addition, if they went to gas-boosted hot water, those emissions would drop to about 0.5 of a tonne.
In addition to the environmental benefits, installing a solar hot water system on dwellings owned by ACT Housing would have an undoubted social benefit by drastically reducing energy bills for society's most socially and economically disadvantaged. We know that hot water heating accounts for 27 per cent of our domestic energy consumption. So there is scope for big savings for people installing solar hot water systems.
Energy Partners reports that the average family of four would save $155 a year by changing from electric off-peak to electric-boosted solar. When you compare gas-boosted solar to electric off-peak, the savings stretch to $233 a year.
I would like to add a personal note. For the past 10 years my family has lived in a house with non-boosted solar hot water. We have never run out of hot water except when we have had a houseful of guests. In recent times, because of a household fire, we have been renting a house that has electric off-peak hot water. We have found-and we are not an average family of four but an above-average family of seven-that our bills have increased, when we take everything else into account, by $100 per billing period, or $600 over a year.
The figures are impressive. The installation of a hot water systems has a many-faceted advantage to people who install one on their house. It reduces their energy consumption, which is good for the community. It reduces greenhouse emissions, which is good for the global community. We have just endorsed the earth charter. In addition, it reduces the cost of running your household by $100, $155, $230 or in my case $600 a year. These are unalloyed benefits.
I am asking the Assembly to endorse the concept that government housing tenants should benefit from the largesse of the government when it comes to solar hot water systems. These people, who are most economically disadvantaged in the community, do not have the capacity to shell out $3,000 or so on a solar hot water system to reap the benefits. It is our responsibility to help them to share in the benefits of the community.
MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services and Minister for the Arts) (11.49): The government accepts all the sentiments expressed by Mrs Dunne about the importance of solar hot water systems. Putting aside the remarks made about you, Mr Quinlan, we agree with all those sentiments.