There are still big incentives to retrofit, but be sure to get in quick.
The federal government has once again changed its eco-rebates and programs. Here’s an update on the major schemes.
The ceiling insulation rebate has been scrapped temporarily. It’s scheduled to begin again on June 1. The new minister responsible, Greg Combet, is letting the batts settle before announcing the full details, but the subsidy will be $1000 (down from $1200). Householders will be required to pay upfront and claim the cash later through the Medicare system.
The federal rebate for replacing your old electric hot water service has also been reduced. Householders are now eligible for $1000 for solar hot water systems and $600 for heat pump systems (down from $1600 and $1000, respectively). You can apply for either the insulation or the hot water system rebate, but not both.
The state government offers rebates for solar hot water systems too – up to $1500 in metropolitan Melbourne, and $1600 in regional Victoria – but only if you’re ineligible for the federal incentive. Extra discounts are also available courtesy of the schemes for renewable energy certificates and Victorian energy efficiency certificates.
The federal government has amended the Green Loans program. Previously, householders could receive a free home sustainability assessment and a four-year interest free loan of up to $10,000. The loan component has been axed altogether, but the assessment scheme has been expanded to allow for an extra 600,000 homes. It’s still free and open to renters and landlords, as well as homeowners.
Home sustainability consultant Keith Loveridge, from Eco Assessment, says that despite its administrative hiccups, the program gives householders a great opportunity. “Energy and water bills are expected to increase sharply in the coming years. You can offset those rises right now by identifying areas where you can make savings.”
To get the best advice, he recommends booking assessors who aren’t affiliated with solar panel or water tank retailers. “Try to stay with the independent assessors who don’t try to sell you anything,” he says. “And make sure your home sustainability assessor is accredited. We all carry identification with us.”
If you want solar photovoltaic panels, the federal Solar Credits scheme remains in place. Presently, the rebate fluctuates according to the market value of renewable energy certificates. However, from January 1 next year the price of the certificates will be fixed at $40. According to Nick Brass, from renewable energy retailer Energy Matters, that will translate to a rebate of $5400 for Victorians who install a grid-connected 1.5-kilowatt system.
Owners of photovoltaic panels may also benefit from the state government’s net feed-in tariff, which started last November. It means you can receive cash or a credit on your bill (depending on your electricity retailer) for any excess power you generate. “With a 1.5-kilowatt system, if you feed half the energy generated during the day into the grid you’ll earn about $800 a year. That will allow you to pay off your system in under eight years,” Mr Brass says.
And finally, water. Both the state and federal governments still offer rebates for tanks and greywater systems – all up, you can get $1500 for a tank or $1000 for a greywater system.