Tuesday, July 08, 2003


A reader writes:

“In Victoria the State Government is introducing regulations that require all new houses built to be equipped with solar hot water heaters and / or rainwater tanks. See here and here.

Solar heaters and rain tanks are great ideas but forcing people to buy them is not. The government is playing up the great energy savings these regulations will provide and selling the new laws as a 'win' to the environment. But if the savings were really as great as they say, you just wouldn't need to force home owners to adopt these systems. Householders could see the benefits of microwave ovens and adopted them quickly without being forced.

In order to win green votes, mainly from people who are not building new homes, and who are keen to enforce their green faith on others, (see here) the government has forgotten common sense. Solar hot water heaters don't save energy ...people do. And people respond to incentives.

Churchill said “If you destroy a free market you create a black market. If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.” In economic terms this legislation adds up to taxing new home builders to provide them with 'free' energy. Pretty nonsensical and certainly not very persuasive.

And the rainwater tanks and solar heaters will require backup from traditional systems, and over time will require more maintenance and cleaning. Homeowners will need to spend more time up ladders.

Having duplicate systems is in fact a waste of resources. Householders will face higher initial costs, even if there is some a longer term payoff. And the new homebuilders will in all likelihood revert to using the traditional systems as their primary system in the long run. If there are any environmental benefits from these measures at all, they are likely to be much less than the politicians are saying.”


No comments: