Revealed: LED light bulbs weren't considered for KiwiBuild

Pressure is mounting on the Government to boost the energy efficiency of KiwiBuild homes.

Documents obtained by Newshub reveal Housing Minister Phil Twyford didn't receive any advice in relation to LED light bulbs and the Government's ambitious plan to build 100,000 affordable houses.

This follows Newshub revealing solar panels were also not considered.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority says: "LEDs are the most efficient and longest-lasting lighting option".

After Newshub's questions to the minister, Mr Twyford revealed there's been a change of plan and he's now looking into the bulbs for KiwiBuild homes.

"I think there's a very good case for it, but there's a lot of work underway on energy efficiency more broadly and thermal efficiency of new homes so it will get considered. The build environment is one of the ways we can reduce carbon emission so we're onto it."

But with 74 KiwiBuilds already built, and no advice asked for or received by the minister, the energy efficient homes aren't yet in the pipeline.

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman told Newshub it's hard to understand why the Government isn't building energy efficient homes.

"On the face of it, it looks like the left doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Here you have the Government engaged in a significant house programme which isn't doing everything it could to take measures to address climate change.

"Those kind of things are things like energy efficient lighting, solar panels and batteries."

Mr Norman says it's a mistake not including the bulbs.

"This is a great opportunity to not only address the housing crisis but also address the climate crisis at the same time. Currently the Government seems to be missing the opportunity."

But Mr Twyford says other measures to make KiwiBuilds more efficient, sustainable and accessible are being considered.

"We've got work underway on what we want to achieve from KiwiBuild other than getting people into affordable home ownership.

"Access for people with disabilities is a common issue, thermal efficiency is an issue, lowering the running costs of a house is an issue.

"There's work underway on all of those things and I fully expect the use of LED light bulbs along with insulation and all the other things will be considered."

Mr Twyford also said Energy Minister Megan Woods gets advice on the lightbulbs from EECA.

According to Energywise:

  • Most LEDs cost less than $10 per bulb, some as little as $3
  • They use up to 85 percent less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs for the same light output
  • A bulb should last about 15,000 hours, around 15 times longer than a standard incandescent light bulb (based on manufacturer's claims)
  • They provide instant full brightness when turned on

National Party housing spokesperson Judith Collins says it's ridiculous they aren't mandatory.

"When it comes down to KiwiBuild, Phil Twyford is after the cheapest possible quality of house rather than actually saying what's in the best interest of the people buying them."

Ms Collins says the bulbs are a cheap option that shouldn't be ignored.

"For a Government that's made a lot of song and dance about energy efficiency, I would've thought the smartest thing to do would've been all Kiwibuild houses built with LED lights."

Green Party energy and resources spokesperson Gareth Hughes agrees.

"They're really straightforward, a lot more affordable than solar panels. Over the last few years the price of LED bulbs have dropped from $25 to $10 a bulb."

Mr Hughes says the Green Party has been pushing for energy efficiency in KiwiBuilds and will continue to.

"If every household in New Zealand changed the top 10 lightbulbs in their house, we would be saving more that $500 million a year on our power bills."

A KiwiBuild spokesperson told Newshub a number of homes do in fact have LED bulbs.

"They are rapidly becoming the industry standard among our developers.”