It was an economic stimulus sweetener which has turned sour for the Government and thousands of householders. The scheme was open to abuse and rip-offs, when the number of insulation companies rose from 100 to more than 500, virtually overnight.
One angry home owner sent us a video of his half done job, but even worse, some companies are getting money for nothing. We received a letter one home owner received confirming her installation had been installed and paid for by the Federal Government -- but there is no house and that's why Patricia Andrews started asking questions.
Patricia's home was resumed by the Queensland Government for construction of a busway. Two weeks later, it was demolished, but the Government paid for it to be insulated. “If I hadn't have received a letter and phoned up they may never have known about it -- and there are others”, Patricia said.
The Government and Police are investigating.
“Thousands of rooves are now potential death traps from tin foil insulation, which up until now, has been fixed in place using metal staples”, said Master Electricians Australia CEO, Malcolm Richards.
Malcolm says metal staples and power cables created giant conductors carrying 240 volts. “If the cable pierced is a light switch wire for example, the ceiling might not come alive until that light switch is turned on, so there could be a danger lurking for someone in the future. The next person to enter that ceiling space when that switch is on for example”, he added.
The danger was rammed home with the death of a 25-year-old installer in Brisbane. “We've already had one fatality unfortunately, from an installer installing this product in this manner and that's led us to call on the Government to remove this rebate, to rub this product out of this program at this point in time”, Malcolm said.
The Government has now banned the use of metal staples, but with an estimated 25,000 homes already done, Electricians like Steve Philps are getting calls on a daily basis. “He hit an airconditioning cable, which is one of the ones up here that would have no safety switch on. So he basically got 240 volts. He's very lucky, very, very lucky”, Steve said.
Just half an hour later the master electricians are called to another home, where electricity was flowing from the roof space through an aluminium awning.
“If you've had insulation installed in your ceiling, if it's the tin foil type I'd highly recommend you don’t get into the ceiling and check it yourself you might be walking into a trap”, Malcolm said.
It's not the only potentially fatal flaw. “The second issue we have is if insulation is placed directly over a high temperature light fitting, your low voltage down lights, then it does create an unreasonable fire risk to the home”, Malcolm said.
The Government has cracked down, wiping 100 companies off its list of approved installers and the rebate has also been slashed from $1600 to $1200 -- a fairer price.
For further information, visit the Government Home Insulation website at: www.environment.gov.au/energyefficiency or by calling the Energy Efficient Homes Call Centre: on 1800 808 571.