Gwen and Peter Ras have launched Calitec, a company which is introducing a new type of hot water heating system to New Zealand. Having spent 10 years working with heat pump technology, including eight years as a Home Tech heat pump franchisee in Northland, Mr Ras said Calitec is manufacturing the technology which he claimed can save 70 per cent on energy bills. Calitec is planning to open the company up to franchisees in 2018.
Originally from Arnhem in the Netherlands, Mr Ras is a sparky by trade, while Mrs Ras was a public relations specialist, having worked on campaigns for energy companies. The pair moved to New Zealand in 2006, young family in tow, for an adventure of a lifetime. They've never looked back and now credit NZ's family friendly culture, environment and business friendly systems as the reasons for calling Whangarei home.
It was while looking for an efficient hot water system for their own home that Peter discovered the technology.
While the split-system, refrigerant cycle water cylinder is being used in other countries, Calitec has introduced it to New Zealand.
Mr Ras was satisfied with the quality of the system after visiting the German-run manufacturing operation in China earlier this year. It works with proven heat pump technology, with an outside compressor and indoor tank. The water is heated inside the tank by the refrigerant gas. "This is how we can save 70 per cent on the cost of heating the water," he said. The company is now manufacturing a system, adapted for Kiwi homes - better protected from corrosion and with longer pipes between the units.
"The average hot water cylinder is located in the centre of the home and is electric," Mrs Ras said.
"Many people use their airing cupboard for laundry but don't stop to consider that the heat is escaping from their tank, and is therefore not an efficient system. By using a good insulated tank, you can save another 10 to 15 per cent on the cost of storage the water.
"When you have a family of teenagers, you need an efficient system," she said. Heat pump technology is already being used here to heat water, through all-in-one, and mono-block systems. Both involve complicated installation, said Mr Ras. The usage cost and the savings are similar but the purchase price of a Calitec (about $3000) is more economical. The new systems are also for commercial use.
The couple credit Northland Inc for helping Calitec to form and grow, through advice and funding towards growing the business into a franchise model. Next year, they will be inviting others to join the Calitec family across NZ, and Northland. Calitec would be training installers and contractors so that only certified teams would be installing the technology.
Photo: Maungatapere residents Gwen and Peter Ras were inspired to introduce a new hot water technology while searching for a more efficient system for their family home.