ASB partners with Rewiring Aotearoa to identify opportunities to transition Kiwi homes to low-cost, low-emissions electricity

13 February 2023

ASB has signed a letter of intent with Rewiring Aotearoa, a New Zealand energy transition charity. ASB intends to finance a pilot study to help identify barriers and opportunities for consumers around energy transitions, focusing on a sample of Kiwi homes. The pilot intends to investigate the conversion to renewable energy with the installation of solar panels and batteries, as well as electric hot water heating, electric cooktops, heat pumps and transition to electric vehicles.

ASB plans to use the lessons learned from the pilot to enhance its pipeline of products and services to help more New Zealanders transition away from expensive imported fossil fuels and power their lives with lower cost, New Zealand generated renewable electricity.

Rewiring Aotearoa is working to speed up the transition to an 'electrified' future. The work shows that electrification can save New Zealanders money on their energy bills, decrease emissions and give communities the resilience to keep their lights on and homes warm.

ASB's Executive General Manager responsible for sustainability, Stephen Bendall, says while encouraging consumers to move away from fossil fuels and switch to renewable electricity is one of the biggest opportunities New Zealand has to achieve its net zero carbon emissions by 2050 target, it will also help to reduce household energy costs.

"We're delighted to be working with Rewiring Aotearoa. The banking industry has a clear role to play in funding the energy transition to a low emissions economy. This is a key priority for us under the environmental pillar of our purpose to accelerate progress for all New Zealanders, and we will be putting significant effort into this, with Rewiring Aotearoa the first cab off the rank.

"ASB can help New Zealanders access capital that enables them to transition their homes to sustainable energy consumption, with the aim of saving them money by reducing household energy, utility and fuel costs. We've already done significant work in this space, including through our Better Homes top up loan which offers customers a 1% fixed interest rate on a loan up to $80,000 to fund eligible home improvements or purchase an electric or hybrid vehicle. Our Business Sustainability Loan provides a special variable interest rate on term loans for an eligible environmental or social purpose.

"A significant portion of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions come from energy use, including emissions produced by individual households and their vehicles. Consumers can have control over many of the decisions that lock in future emissions - for example, each purchase of a fossil fuel vehicle or appliance locks in 10-20 years of committed emissions over its lifetime. If that decision is electric, it can significantly decrease the amount of committed emissions. The right finance products can empower households to lower their energy bills while lowering their emissions and keep those savings previously spent on fossil fuels within communities."

Rewiring Aotearoa's CEO Mike Casey, who has fully electrified his cherry orchard in Central Otago, says finance is a key part of the puzzle and the pilot we intend to launch with ASB may ultimately help more New Zealanders access the economic and environmental benefits that electrification provides.

"I've switched all my fossil fuel machines - even my tractor - to electric equivalents, added solar and batteries and I've saved lots of money and significantly reduced my emissions. There are millions of fossil fuel machines in New Zealand and eventually they will need replacing or upgrading. When that happens, the purchase of an electric machine - whether it's a heat pump, electric vehicle, or water heater - will be much cheaper than the fossil fuel equivalent in the long run.

"Electrifying our appliances and vehicles can provide long-term cost of living benefits. When a home electrifies, it requires an upfront purchase decision. Not everyone has the available capital to make that purchase, so the right finance products can help homes pay off the purchase while they are saving money on bills.

"Our work gives New Zealanders the opportunity to benefit from saving money on energy bills while lowering emissions. New Zealand has a unique opportunity to become one of the world's most electric economies and show other countries that the transition is possible. We're thrilled to have ASB on board and supporting this work."

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