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What to look out for
Feed-in tariff rates (sizing PV arrays to rely on payment from energy companies)
Energy companies in New Zealand are allowed to determine how much they will pay for the surplus energy you generate.
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In 2014, two major New Zealand electricity providers dropped feed-in tariff rates by more than half and there is no guarantee that prices will not decrease further.
To combat this, solar systems can be sized to reduce the amount of surplus energy generated or a monitoring and control system can be used to manage energy so more of it is used within the home rather than being exported and sold.
Focusing on the impact of individual systems
Because energy efficiency is a holistic concept, a single system may not be as efficient when working by itself as when part of a group of strategies that work together. For example, a PV array working to supply energy to an inefficient house highly reliant on active heating will not result in energy savings.
A holistic approach requires you to think about objectives before technologies. Not doing this risks only solving part of the problem and failing to achieve your wider objectives in the long term.
Failing to get benefits from design
Energy efficiency strategies that are included in the project from the onset are likely to merge effortlessly with the design and be more cost-effective than those included at the end of the design stages or even during construction. Passive solar design can have a major impact on your energy use by making the most of the site and the opportunities to naturally heat and cool the building.
Wanting to adjust the design after several design stages have been signed off in order to include your energy objectives can result in less integrated approaches and design fees derived from changes.
Sacrificing comfort for energy efficiency
When sustainability outcomes are considered in an integrated way, the design will provide solutions to achieve your energy targets alongside comfort ones. Sacrificing comfort (e.g. not letting fresh air into the house or not heating the house to a comfortable temperature) to reduce your energy use and bills can result in a house that affects the health of people living in it, especially the very young and the old (see the ‘
Comfort and Health
’ article and ‘What should I be aiming for’ section of article for more information).
Forgetting that some energy generation systems may require consents
If you are installing an energy generation system to meet your energy objectives, remember to ask suppliers if it requires approval from the Council. Solar hot water systems usually require a Building Consent, and PV may require Resource Consent in a heritage zone. Micro-hydro and small wind turbines may require a Resource Consent as well.