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Old Homes Cold Throughout Winter - Study Shows

24 October 2002

Old homes cold throughout winter - study shows A study looking at the health effects of insulating homes has uncovered some interesting statistics in its baseline research.

EECA's Acting Chief Executive John Boyd says the fact that 70 percent of the study group, involving people with a history of respiratory illness, say their homes are cold and damp 'mostly' or 'always' during winter is of serious concern.

"It would be easy to assume that this is just a cost thing, or that these families weren't, for whatever reason, using some form of heating. But 40 percent of households say the heat 'just disappears'.

"With no insulation, heat leaking out of the home isn't a surprise. We know that old, poorly insulated (or not insulated at all) homes cost more to heat and are generally colder than insulated homes. But there is no robust research that quantifies the health benefits of insulation. This study will tell us what the impact of insulating homes is on the health of the occupants, specifically people with a history of respiratory illness."

The study group is made up of families with at least one member with a history of respiratory illness, and who are living in older homes with no insulation.

"Insulating a home doesn't just put a few more dollars in a family's back pocket from reduced heating costs, it could also improve the health of the occupants. This study will give us some hard data about the impact of insulation on health," Mr Boyd said.

EECA is supporting the national study being conducted by the Housing and Health Research Programme at the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences (Otago University). The study involves 1322 houses in seven different areas of New Zealand (Otara, South Taranaki, Eastern Bay of Plenty, Nuhaka/Mahia, Porirua, Hokitika and Christchurch). The Baseline research was gathered during winter 2001 and will be compared with results from the control group and the experimental group in winter this year. Results from the study will be published in March 2003.


For further information contact Rachel Dahlberg, EECA, 04 470 2209/021 392 431 or Anna Matheson, Housing and Health Research Programme, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 04 385 5999 x 4844

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