Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-02-03
KRudd’s insulation package to maintain employment of construction workers (the main reason this got up), as well as increase energy efficiency is welcome, but shows blinkered vision.
They’ve forgotten about all the radiant heat that enters houses via unshaded windows. Ceiling insulation will only keep this heat in. Surely it is better to keep the heat out in the first place!
If the government gave a rebate on both purchase and installation of external awnings, this would stimulate a bigger sector, as well as produce a significant reduction in energy costs.
Perhaps the only beneficiaries of the ceiling-insulation-only approach rather than including awnings are the insulation manufacturers, which are usually larger corporations rather than the small-medium businesses that build awning components. If you included awnings, many of which can use natural products such as wood and fibre, there’d be a benefit to the agricultural sector as well.
Of course, once a building is already hot, especially after a cool change has come in, the ceiling insulation is part of the problem. Awnings which can keep radiant heat out when down, but raised to let heat in during winter, are a much more flexible solution.
Awnings need to be put on office buildings, and houses, especially those many "modern" houses that for dumb fashion reasons don’t have eaves and have completely exposed windows.
When I was a kid, almost every shop in a "strip" had big awnings between the footpath and the street, with shop-owners raising and lowering these when their side of the street was exposed to the hot sun or driving rain. This certainly cut down on fuel bills. With the modern practice of having shops with air-conditioning and open doors, use of large awnings also means that the cool (or heat) that has escaped from the shop is somewhat contained on the footpath, rather than diffusing everywhere. These makes it better for shoppers using those strips.
The other approach is in building regulations, perhaps combined with stamp duty rules. No awnings: no construction or massively increased stamp duty. And of course, encouraging medium density rather than free-standing houses improves insulation by having roof and at least two sides of the building insulated by the next unit.
And if we want a fibre for awnings that is strong, so easily grown it is currently a weed, then hemp (perhaps using strains that don’t produce cannabinols) is a pretty good way to satisfy the need for awnings while soaking up carbon from the atmosphere because of high growth rates and minimal water requirements.
The same approach can make public transport less life-threatening… the newer trams, trains and buses don’t have sunshades, making them less sensible than the old W-class trams and "red rattlers".
Mind you… I’ve seen people in trams NOT using the shades when they are available. Dumb, dumb, dumb.