Find­ing bet­ter ways to stay warm

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

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.

Photo: MARY-JO TO­HILL

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.

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