In winter all we want to do is hibernate. When it’s raining or snowing, we want to light the fire or switch on the heater, settle back and watch a movie or read a good book. We want to feel protected from the harsh outside elements. Unfortunately for many New Zealanders, all the heating, blankets and jumpers in the world will not shield them from the cold if their houses are not properly insulated. In a country full of beautiful villas, state houses, or simply houses with a few years on them, home owners have a responsibility to ensure their houses – whether leased to tenants or lived in – are insulated properly.
At last count more than one million New Zealand homes were still un-insulated, with the majority being rental or low income housing. In the past three years about 230,000 houses were insulated with the Government Warm Up New Zealand subsidy scheme, however just 25,000 of those were rental properties.
Warm Up has been operating since 2009 and offers a 33 per cent subsidy, or up to $1300, for the cost of installing insulation into houses built before 2000. For those with Community Services Card, or their landlords, a whopping 60 per cent subsidy is available. While a lot of landlords are resistant to insulate their house, for a number of reasons, including cost and availability of installers, it would be in their best interest to do so.
The rising cost of electricity and other forms of heating in New Zealand has people worried. Keeping the house warm is expensive and people are generally looking for any way to keep those prices down. An effective way to keep winter electricity costs down is to live in an insulated home. Insulation keeps heat inside the house and ensures the heat doesn’t escape. The house will automatically be warmer even before you switch the heater on. Insulation also has the opposite effect in summer; it keeps the cool air in.
Renters and indeed anyone looking for a new home are far more inclined to take the house with up to date insulation, as it makes more sense financially, as well as for the health of their families. Living in an un insulated house can cause several health issues and exacerbate existing ones. Because cold houses are generally damp, they can attract mould, which causes a multitude of respiratory problems, especially with the elderly and young children. Those living in damp houses are more likely to get colds and flu-like illnesses over winter as well as asthma flare-ups and other breathing issues.
Installing insulation into homes can significantly improve the quality of life to the dwellers as the home becomes warmer and drier. This will also increase the value of the home and reduce mould and damp related damage to the property.
For more information on how you can insulate your home and on the subsidies available to you check out the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority website.