President of Eco Tasmania Philip Cocker today called on the State Government to implement the Council of Australian Governments’ decision to phase out electric hot water systems.

Mr Cocker said, ‘Every day that Tasmania is isolated from this decision means higher energy costs for Tasmanian households now and in the future. The Minister who made the decision, the now-retired David Llewellyn, made it on spurious grounds and Tasmanians are being disadvantaged by it.

‘A solar hot water system can save between $300 and $700 every year off electricity bills. This would be a significant boost to many households, particularly given the increases in the price of electricity and the tightening economy.’

In 2010 the Council of Australian Governments agreed that due to the inefficiency of electric hot water cylinders that their phase-out was the best way forward. Electric hot water cylinders waste up to 40% of the energy by re-heating the water ‘waiting’ in the tank. The COAG decision also recognised that the alternatives of solar and instantaneous gas with solar are by far the most efficient options.

The COAG agreement would also see people being supported to install energy efficient water heating when they need to replace an existing system or are building a new home. Only Tasmania opted out, despite solar and gas systems already operating successfully in this state.

Mr Cocker said, ‘The current Minister must realize that with the increase of electricity prices this decision not to support better systems duds Tasmania households and retards the businesses that provide the better technologies. It is damaging businesses and it is a piece of peculiar Tasmanian policy which is in the interests of very few.

‘Most State Governments have offered financial incentives to make the transition to more efficient hot water, with Tasmania being the exception. We cannot afford to compound the lack of incentive with a poor policy decision.

‘The Government should explain why it did not support a nationwide decision that reduces people’s energy bills and where the benefits increase with every rise in the cost of electricity’.

Mr Cocker concluded, ‘The phase-out occurs gradually as current electric hot water cylinders wear out and need replacing. There is no compulsion to make the change for people until they need new system or are building a new house. The more efficient systems pay for themselves in approximately 5 years for most people.’

Eco Tasmania is an organisation whose principle purpose is the protection and enhancement of the natural environment, the provision of information on sustainable living , education on low environmental technologies and development of community based programs to assist in a transition to strong sustainable communities. ECO Tasmania was the proud sponsor of the winner of the Community Award in the 2011 Tasmanian Awards for Environmental Excellence.