They're back. Government rebates for insulation approved for South Australia.

South Australia’s Residential Energy Efficiency Scheme has extended its eligible no-cost or low-cost activities to include retrofitting insulation, as well as the purchase and installation of energy-efficient airconditioning and water heaters. It also includes a range of energy efficiency upgrades and retrofit activities for small and medium enterprises.

Rebranded as the Retailer Energy Efficiency Scheme, there has already been a good uptake of the new activities, according to chief executive of Ecovantage Bruce Easton.

Mr Easton told The Fifth Estate that as far as the insulation retrofits go, he believes it is the only program of its kind in operation in Australia following the beleaguered federal Home Insulation Program. He said the SA government had taken on board issues raised by the Royal Commission into the HIP, and the specifications for allowable products specifically forbid the use of the aluminium reflective foil insulation types that can pose an electrical hazard risk.

Further, any installer must be accredited to undertake building works, undertake a risk assessment for every project and have appropriate safety measures in place.

“They have been very careful how they have set this up,” Mr Easton said.

The scheme provides a rebate of about $1000 for the retrofitting of insulation for an average 200 square metre home, he said. The average cost of the insulation is between $2500 and $3000, making it a saving of around 30 to 40 per cent for the home owner.

Other activities that are eligible under the new REES for the residential sector include replacing thermally inefficient windows, installing efficient new ductwork, replacing or upgrading water heaters, installing standby power controllers for audiovisual or information technology equipment, secondary glazing retrofits, replacing linear fluorescent or halogen luminaires, installing energy-efficient reverse cycle airconditioning, installing LED luminaires, installing high efficiency pool pumps and building sealing activities.

For both the SME commercial sector and the residential sector, activities include purchasing high-efficiency refrigerators or freezers, purchasing a high-efficiency clothes dryer or television, removing and disposing of unwanted fridges or freezers, and a water efficiency retrofit of showerheads, which Mr Easton said was being particularly targeted towards premises such as schools and gymnasiums.

There is also an activity specifically for the SME commercial sector of lighting upgrades, which allows for the replacement of up to 150 light globes with more energy-efficient alternatives.

The major electricity and gas retailers are obliged to provide REES activities by the SA Government, and there are five third party contractors, including Ecovantage, accredited to provide the services on their behalf. Mr Easton said the program has boosted the SA business, with the five-member Ecovantage SA team expecting to add more staff within the next few months in order to meet the demand for services.

Full details of the scheme here.