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Contact Launches Healthy Homes Project

Creating Positive Energy: Contact Launches Healthy Homes Project

Energy Minister Trevor Mallard this evening launched Contact Energy’s new initiative to improve national health and energy efficiency outcomes by tackling high rates of asthma and respiratory illness and help make New Zealand homes dry, warm and pollution-free.

“It’s very encouraging to see one of the country’s largest energy companies team up with the country’s leading respiratory illness advocacy body to make a real difference to people’s lives and health,” said Mr Mallard.

Under its Healthy Homes initiative, Contact Energy will: become principal sponsor for the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation, New Zealand’s leading source of advocacy and assistance on respiratory illness; fund practical research into home environments over the next three years by the Housing and Health Research Group, based at Otago University’s Wellington School of Medicine, a world-leading respiratory health research project that has already produced important results for public health policy-makers; will seek involvement in regional home retro-fitting projects led by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority; and offer practical, affordable energy efficiency solutions through partnership with national home renovation and appliance retailers Mitre 10 and Noel Leeming.

The initiative will launch nationally in Asthma Awareness Week, March 15-21, and builds on last year’s Positive Energy campaign outlining the energy challenges facing New Zealand.

“Our customers told us loud and clear that they expected energy efficiency and conservation to be important contributors to meeting New Zealand’s future energy needs,” said Contact’s chairman, Grant King.

“Contact Energy Healthy Homes seeks to give practical advice and solutions that will allow people to make best use of the energy they consume, to the benefit of both their health and their household budget.

“We also know that over 800,000 New Zealanders suffer from asthma and other respiratory illnesses. That’s one of the highest rates in the world - and it’s growing. And we know that on average New Zealanders’ homes are colder and damper than recommended international health guidelines.”

“Research by the Wellington School of Medicine shows that having a warmer home helps protect your family against respiratory problems and from colds, ‘flu and aggravated asthma.”

"Making a home healthier need not cost the earth. In fact, many improvements and savings can be achieved by changes in habits and in areas beyond power consumption, including fewer doctors’ visits and days off from work or school. “

Gerald Hensley, Chair of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand, welcomed Contact’s involvement in making New Zealanders’ homes healthier.

“We’re delighted Contact Energy is taking a lead on this very significant health issue for New Zealanders. Too many of our homes are damp, cold and have poor quality air, leading to colds and ‘flus and aggravated asthma. If people act on the advice this campaign will promote, we believe it can make a positive difference in improving the health of homes and in lessening the severity of respiratory illnesses,” said Mr Hensley.

Associate Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman of the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences said it was tremendous to have Contact Energy’s support of the nation-wide Healthy Housing Research Programme.

“Contact’s support will enhance our research into making New Zealanders’ homes healthier. We expect the research programme will deepen our knowledge about the contributing factors to New Zealand’s very high rates of respiratory illness and provide better information about what actions to take in reducing it and improving health outcomes,” said Dr Howden-Chapman.

Editor’s Note Please find attached a précis of community research on the health benefits of housing insulation from the University of Otago School of Medical and Health Science’s He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme.

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