What the Climate Change Commission recommendations could mean for your renovation
Proposal to ban new gas connections from 2025.
By James le Page
If the CCC recommendations are adopted into policy, there will be no new gas connections after 2025. There are no guarantees it will happen, but with a ban on new gas exploration already in place, it does seem that natural gas might be flaming out.
Should you pass on gas?
If you’re weighing up getting a new gas connection or looking at installing a new water heater, kitchen or fixed heating in your home this announcement will probably bring you into the “pass” camp. They’re high-cost investments in your home that you expect to last for a long time and you want to be sure you’ve made the right decision.
Piped natural gas is currently the cheapest way to heat your water and it’s an efficient way to heat your home. However, these costs going forward are a complete unknown.
It’s not the time to rip out your existing instant hot water heater or gas hobs in the kitchen, but as these products come up for replacement, you might consider going down a different route. If not gas, what are your alternatives?
Changes in the kitchen
The main thing affected in the kitchen is your cooktop. Gas is the choice of chefs due to its excellent temperature control and instant heat, but you don’t lose a lot when you look at induction instead. In fact, the best-performing cooktops in our latest batch of 82 models showed that induction comes out on top and is the way to go when looking at your reno.
Heating your water
No instant gas means no more endless showers. Parents of teenagers will rejoice but it might affect your place. Many modern designs completely do away with bulky indoor tanks and their associated hot water cupboards to create more space inside your home. If you have some plans underway, think about where you might be able to fit a tank (remember they can go outside).
The next cheapest way to heat your hot water (after natural gas) is by using a heat pump water heater.
Heating your home
If you’re renovating, consider a whole-home solution with central heating. A multi-split heat pump water heater can heat your water and also look after underfloor or radiator heating as well. It comes with a hefty installation cost that’s dependent on the size of your home, but you’ll be toasty and comfortable for years going forward.
The classic heat pump is a great option won’t break the bank to install and they’re also incredibly efficient. Woodburners are another option and dry, well-seasoned wood is a renewable resource (that said, even the most efficient fireplaces still put out emissions).
The bottom line
A gas connection costs on average about $550 per year (based on our 2020 survey). Choosing to forgo a new connection and selecting the most energy-efficient space and water heating can end up saving you a lot of money over the years.
It’s important to remember that the environmental cost of gas is unacceptable and the CCC recommendations are there to try put a stop to climate change. This is where electricity beats gas in New Zealand. Our electricity generation comes primarily from renewable sources while gas is a one-time deal that’s extracted from the ground and, in the process of you using it, pumps CO2 into the air. Luckily there are plenty of efficient electrical appliances and heating options that’ll perform admirably while giving you the big green tick for your place.
Where to next?
The CCC recommendations are still in their initial draft stage. The Government has indicated they’re in support of the targets, but it remains their decision if this is implemented as policy. Even if it is, it could be a tempered back version.
GUIDE TO THE FIGURESBars represent the range between maximum and minimum costs. Black lines represent the national median. Electricity and natural gas costs are based on April 2020 data from powerswitch.org.nz. Other prices were collected during March 2020. GST is included.
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