Finding better ways to stay warm
When people pay hefty winter power bills, they have little left over to invest in longer-term solutions to reduce their energy costs.
It’s as simple as that, according to the organisers of a community meeting to discuss adoption of solar and thermal energy technologies, to be held in Alexandra.
In advance of that meeting, sustainability warrior Sampsa Kiuru of Clyde, well-known locally for his straw-bale house on Earnscleugh Road, said he wanted to hear from people struggling with home energy consumption.
‘‘What we want to do is to find people living in Alexandra who face high heating costs for their homes, and as a result, have no discretionary income to invest, for instance, in improving the insulation of their homes.’’
Three people with "potential for maximum gains" would be chosen by the organisers and each given five minutes to present their case for discussion at the meeting, with a focus on developing community-scale practical solutions.
‘‘The goal is to get some community support for people to actually solve their problem.’’
Also a rural hospital and emergency doctor and originally from Finland, Kiuru said he had seen the health impacts of cold and damp houses on Otago and Southland’s children and elderly.
Co-organiser and climate scientist Greg Bodeker, also of Clyde, said Alexandra’s air pollution, along with home heating and insulation issues, was of particular concern in winter. Roxburgh and Cromwell also shared these concerns, and while Queenstown and Wanaka were in a better position, not all new houses were built for passive solar gain with thermal mass heating capabilities.
In the weeks following the meeting, he said the plan was to visit homes and businesses with solar energy technologies working, such as solar heating or solar photovoltaics (or PV, a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity).
These visits and the proposed dates would be presented at the meeting.
The meeting takes its lead from REAP (Central Otago Rural Education Activities Programme) and its action arm, MAD4CO (Making A Difference for Central Otago).
It would coincide with a visit from Green Party MPGareth Hughes, who would talk about Green Party policies aimed to encourage the adoption of renewable energy resources across New Zealand.
A bit of Finland: Clyde-based sustainability warriors Greg Bodeker, left, and Sampsa Kiuru have organised a public meeting at Alexandra next Saturday, to discuss issues such as home heating. They are beside Kiuru’s fireplace, of the type typically found in his home country Finland, built for maximum thermal gain. It burns wood and is made of brick, covered with an earth plaster to retain and disperse heat. The ledges are made of soapstone, which also holds some warmth.