PALAU, August 2009 (IUCN)– A local program is encouraging investment in energy efficient homes to help green Palau and save people money at the same time.
Palau, like many small developing islands in the Pacific, is focused on moving in the direction of a more sustainable energy path and reducing its dependency on fossil fuel. Being one of the highest per-capita energy users in the Pacific Island Countries with a population of 20, 000 people, Palau is taking firm steps to lower their energy consumption and promote energy efficiency and conservation through their Energy Efficiency Subsidy Program (EESP).
The EESP is a voluntary program aimed at providing home loans that specifically targets the inclusion of energy efficiency measures in new homes to lower household electricity consumption. It is estimated that through this program, electricity usage in new homes will drop by 15%. This new innovative program by the National Development Bank of Palau (NDBP) promises to lift the standard of living in Palau while embracing environmentally sound practices.
Since its inception in October 2008, the program has received a total of thirty two applications with two energy model homes completed in Koror State and construction already commencing for another two: one in Airai State and another in Koror state. In addition six energy efficient standard homes are under construction with twenty-two more applications being processed.
How it works:
Through this Energy Efficiency home loan program, the NDBP helps moderate income families build new homes, with choices of energy saving features suitable for the Palau environment. The bank provides subsidies to the borrower ranging from a minimum of $3,000 to $10, 000 (US Dollars), depending on the type and number of features selected by the new home owner.
It’s more than just using energy saver lights and using energy star appliances. Home owners will have a range of energy saving options to choose from including: tinted or high performance glass, solar water heaters, hot water piping insulation, exterior window shading or awnings and more.
Invest more to save more!
The concept of energy efficiency is usually associated with higher costs. In terms of initial costs the energy-efficient house could cost 2% to 10% more than a house without energy efficient features. However, you’ll pay less in electricity bills each month, usually more than enough to offset any increase in your mortgage payments.
Awareness has been a major tool for the program and the team at NDBP has been working tirelessly to promote this concept which is new to many Palauns.
“We have placed a lot of effort in our awareness campaigns and have been working with our Energy Office, local partners, other leading agencies and the communities to help people understand energy efficiency and the Energy Efficiency home loan program,” says Clarinda Ziegler, the Project Manager for the EESP.
The program had also launched an intensive village outreach program earlier in April of this year reaching out to 16 states in the country. According to Ms Ziegler the concept and the meaning of energy efficiency is now becoming a familiar lingo within the communities and the people. “We are very pleased with the responses from the communities”
The Energy Efficiency Subsidy Program is supported by the Governments of Italy and Austria through the technical and managerial expertise of The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
“Palau’s Energy Efficiency home loan program is one of its first to be implemented in the Oceania region and offers valuable lessons for all,” says Anare Matakiviti, IUCN’s Energy Programme Coordinator.
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