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Contact Energy Healthy Homes Initiative

Contact Energy Healthy Homes Initiative

Contact Energy is helping make more than two and a half thousand low income New Zealanders’ homes warmer, drier and healthier this winter.

Chief Executive David Baldwin said the Contact Energy Healthy Homes programme was not only raising awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency but was also making a positive difference to the lives of thousands of New Zealanders.

"With the middle of winter upon us we are proud to be helping over 2500 Kiwi households enjoy more comfortable and healthy homes," said Mr Baldwin.

"We are into the second year of our Healthy Homes programme, assisting more than 2500 households to enjoy the health and comfort benefits of properly insulated and heated homes," he said.

Contact is already contributing to 10 community-led home insulation projects across New Zealand, with more in negotiation. In addition, Contact is investing $200,000 a year in one of the country’s largest medical research projects - the University of Otago’s Health and Housing Research Group study into the links between respiratory illnesses, heating choices and the home environment.

Home retrofitting projects supported by Contact are under way in Dunedin, Christchurch, South Canterbury, Nelson, Kapiti / Horowhenua, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington / Hutt Valley, Taranaki, Gisborne, and the Ngati Kahungunu rohe from Wairoa to the Wairarapa.

"The programme continues to grow," said Mr Baldwin. "We are currently negotiating Contact’s involvement in a new schemes for Counties Manukau, in South Auckland and Taranaki."

Contact works in partnership with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), a number of local authorities, community trusts, electricity network companies and district health boards to deliver free or heavily subsidised insulation to people who could not normally afford it.

Upon winning the Supreme Award at this year’s EnergyWise Awards, EECA Chief Executive Heather Staley said, "Contact Energy thought about what would actually work for people, and they tailored the project to make energy efficiency easy. Delivering better value for the same energy bill benefits their customers and makes good business sense for them".

In Christchurch, Contact has recently announced sponsorship of a Community Energy Action Trust project which insulates the homes of people aged over 70, and is working with Ngati Kahungunu covering Hawke’s Bay and the Wairarapa on a project led by Housing New Zealand.

The University of Otago project is insulating more than 400 homes and installing new, low emission, energy efficient heating technology to assess impacts on the health of families suffering asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

"Contact Energy has shown real leadership in this area," said Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, head of the University of Otago Housing and Health Research Group.

"The research that Contact is helping to fund has the potential to make a serious difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who suffer respiratory illness as a result of inadequate insulation and heating."

Mr Baldwin said a well insulated home not only delivered clear health and comfort benefits, but also allowed the most efficient and cost-effective use of energy.

Selected homes receive an EnergySmart Energy Check which identifies ways in which energy is used in the home and suggests where improvements can be made. Homes also receive ceiling and under floor insulation, polythene ground cover, weather proofing of external doors, a hot water cylinder wrap and energy saving lamps.

Director of EnergySmart, Robyn McKeown, said EnergySmart is privileged to be involved in these projects which made such a tremendous difference to the lives of those involved and for whom such measures would otherwise be out of reach.

"We receive a constant flow of thank you letters from project participants who are delighted with how much warmer their home is, and comment on how much their health has been improved through having their home insulated," she said.

As the projects progress, Contact will be surveying the households that have received insulation retrofits and will publish the results later this year.

The Contact Energy Healthy Homes programme has also involved promoting home insulation and energy efficient appliances to Contact customers through retail partnerships with Mitre 10 and Farmers.

Contact’s Healthy Homes interactive home check-up is proving a convenient and effective way for people to work out what steps could deliver the best results for their own household.

"We recommend that anyone who is not enjoying a warm, healthy home to visit our website and investigate the most cost-effective steps available to them to increase their comfort, health and energy efficiency," said Mr Baldwin.

Contact Energy’s Healthy Homes community retrofit programme
Region Number of homes*
Dunedin 150
South Canterbury 280
Nelson 200
Taranaki 400
Wellington / Hutt 400
Gisborne 200
Hawke’s Bay 130
Horowhenua / Kapiti 100
Eastland 200
Christchurch 85
University of Otago 416**
TOTAL 2561
* Most projects run over a two year period.

** Contact is funding the installation of heat pumps, flued gas heating and wood pellet burners in the homes in the study, all of which will receive retro-fitted insulation as part of the research project.


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