What better Christmas present to get than a free hot water system, said Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, who launched the You Can Afford to Save the Planet campaign yesterday.
The joint initiative between the Federal Government, environment company Easy Being Green, and the ANZ bank, provides rebates and a six-month, interest-free green loan to offset the cost of a solar hot water system, which typically retails for about $3,000.
"This is a low-cost, no-cost solution," said Garrett, speaking at Maroubra surf lifesaving club, which has installed the first solar hot water system under the scheme.
"It goes a long way towards starting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the housing sector."
The aim of the scheme is to phase out greenhouse gas intensive hot water systems and to increase the number of households that take advantage of government rebates - currently it's at five per cent for solar hot water, Garrett said.
The rebates can completely offset the cost of a system for residents of New South Wales and Victoria.
Homeowners pay for the system upfront with the help of the green loan and then claim back the cost through federal, state and even local government rebates.
The federal rebate (using Renewable Energy Certificates) is means tested so only households earning less than $100,000 are eligible for the $1,000 rebate.
The rebates do not cover the cost of installing the system, adding another $1,300 to the price.
"This is a fantastic Christmas present because it pays itself off in the long term," Garrett said.
Solar-powered hot water typically reduces a bill by about 30 per cent, said Andrew Randall, managing director of Easy Being Green.
"We believe we can save the world one shower at a time," he said. "We want people to stick it where the sun does shine.