Insuring a green home

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Australians are taking steps to make their homes greener by installing energy-saving or water-conserving appliances and technologies.

73% of Australian adults are concerned about climate change, with 53% already convinced that the natural environment is in declinei. The 2007-08 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Report on Environmental Awareness and Action highlight that adults worry about the future of their environment, but more importantly, it also shows that these Australians are addressing their concerns by taking proactive steps to conserve energy and reduce waste, starting from home.

These steps include the installation of rain water tanks, grey water systems, solar power and energy-efficient appliances. When you spend money on these environment-conscious additions to your home, it's important to make sure that your investment is protected by home insurance.

Making white goods green

Almost 40% of energy consumed in households is used for heating and cooling, and another 25% goes towards heating waterii. Household appliances consume almost one fifth of the energy, of which 34% is used up by refrigerators and freezers aloneii. In 2007-08, 76% of Australians claimed that they were trying to conserve water use and 88% were trying to decrease electricity usei. In 2008, the most common factor considered by Australians when buying white goods for their home was "energy efficiency", as compared with 2002 when "cost" was considered mosti.

A national body, Equipment Energy Efficiency Program (E3) was established in 1992 to rate and label certain home appliances so consumers can become aware of the energy efficiency of the product they are buyingiii. For consumers, E3's work can be seen as stickers on the front of white goods and these labels give information on the product's comparative energy consumption and star rating. To purchase a white good that is more energy efficient, simply look for one that has more stars on itiv. There are similar regulations placed on water efficiency with the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standardsv.

Home appliances can use up to one fifth of a household's energy

Conserving water and solar power

In light of enforced water restrictions and environmental concern, Australians have been taking steps to conserve water within their homes - 47% justified their installation of a rainwater tank with the reason 'to save water'vi. Just over one in four (26%) households in Australia reported using a rainwater tank as a source of water in March 2010, compared to 19% in 2007vi. Almost half of South Australian households used a rainwater tankvi.

Solar energy use in Australia also increased from 5% in 2002 to 8% in 2008vii. The primary use for solar power is to heat water - in the Northern Territory, 54% of households had access to solar-heated watervii.

Solar hot water panels and solar photo-voltaic power systems are all green household technologies that can be covered by insurance

Energy- and water-saving devices are fairly widespread across Australia and are becoming more popular over time. Unfortunately, the up-front cost of energy-efficient products may be more than their less efficient competitors. However, if you have contents cover from Allianz, in the event of loss or damage Allianz will replace selected whitegoods with appliances of equal or better energy efficiency. And if you have building cover, your investment in your solar power system, solar hot water system, rainwater tank and other select fixtures will be covered for damage or loss under the policy's terms and conditions.

Allianz is also taking steps to further progress the conservation of energy and water in Australia. If your home is destroyed and Allianz agrees to rebuild your building, Allianz is offering up to $5,000 on top of the sum insured to install any combination of a rainwater tank, grey water recycling system, hot water heat exchange system and solar power system*.

* Applicable when you have building cover and after the deduction of any rebate you are eligible for under any government or council rebate scheme.

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i Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Australian Social Trends Jun 2010, Environmental Awareness and Action,

ii Sandu, S. and Petchey, R., 2009, End use energy intensity in the Australian economy, ABARE research report 09.17, Canberra,, p.39

iii Australian, State and Territory and New Zealand Governments, 2012, Equipment Energy Efficiency,

iv Australian, State and Territory and New Zealand Governments, 2012, About Energy Rating Labels,

v Australian Government, 2011, Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme,

vi Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Environmental Issues: Water use and Conservation, More Australians using rainwater tanks,

vii Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends, Jan 2010,$File/46130_2010.pdf