New Zealand Energy Minister Pete Hodgson is calling for more New Zealanders to install solar water heating. Hodgson said that there are government grants available now to help with the purchase of solar systems.Auckland, New Zealand – February 12, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] In the 2003/04 Budget the Government committed NZD$200,000 (US$140,000) to EnergyWise Solar Water Heating Grants. By June 30, the grants will have helped put more than 400 solar water heaters on New Zealand homes — a 20 percent increase on what would otherwise have been installed. According to Hodgson, water heating is responsible for between 30 and 45 percent of a household’s energy bill, which means there is significant potential for households to save power and money. “Solar is a renewable form of energy, producing no greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the need for electricity generated with fossil fuels such as coal and gas,” Hodgson said. “Every year around 70,000 new water heating systems are installed in New Zealand’s 1.3 million homes but only 2,000 of those are solar. Reaching the solar industry’s medium-term target of 10,000 solar water heating installations a year would be a huge increase on current sales and a valuable contribution towards our national renewable energy target.” In addition to the grants, the New Zealand Government, through New Zealand’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), is working with the Solar Industries Association to get industry training in place, improve the quality of installations, establish a testing regime for solar systems and market the benefits of solar water heating. The NZD $450 (US$315) grant is available to New Zealanders who take out a loan to purchase a solar water heater from participating Solar Industries Association suppliers. A limited number of grants are available.