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30 Timaru families set to snuggle up to clean heat

Hon David Benson-Pope, MP
Minister for the Environment
Member of Parliament for Dunedin South

08 February 2006 Media Statement

30 Timaru families set to snuggle up to clean heaters this winter

Thirty Timaru families will receive a free heat pump or wood pellet burner for their home over the next month, as part of the government's Warm Homes trial, Environment Minister David Benson-Pope announced today.

The Timaru initiative is the second trial of the government’s Warm Homes project and is being run by the Ministry for the Environment and Environment Canterbury, and is supported by the Timaru District Council. The Ministry for the Environment has contributed $50,000 for the new heaters.

More than 50 per cent of Timaru houses are currently heated with open fires or old wood burners. These release soot into the air which causes air pollution and health problems, particularly during winter. With new heaters, residents will not only save energy but will also enjoy a clean, warm and healthy home.

Homes will be selected in the next few weeks based on the type and age of their heating appliance, with open fires and old wood burners at the top of the list.

"Timaru has a serious air quality problem," said Mr Benson-Pope. "The town exceeded the fine particles National Environmental Standard 40 times last year. The main contributor to this problem – over 80 per cent – is home heating, open fires and old wood burners.

"There are heating alternatives for residents of Timaru, which are healthier, more comfortable and may be even cheaper than an open fire or wood burner," he said.

Environment Canterbury chairman Sir Kerry Burke says Timaru has a serious air pollution problem, with 34 to 53 high pollution days a year over the past seven years.

"The National Environmental Standards for air quality say that we can’t have more than one high pollution day a year by 2013," said Sir Kerry. “We are about to consult with Timaru ratepayers about a subsidy programme to help residents convert to clean heat, so we are very pleased to be have this government-sponsored trial take place first."

The trial will build on the existing South Canterbury ‘Healthy Homes’ programme which has been insulating and adding energy efficiency measures to older houses in Timaru. A similar successful trial was run in Tokoroa in the North Island last year.


Background: The Warm Homes project

New Zealand has clean air most of the time in most places. There are some problems in some areas, however. Air pollution causes a range of significant health problems, including respiratory diseases, asthma attacks, reduced immunity and even premature deaths. Many of these problems are preventable.

The Ministry for the Environment has introduced National Environmental Standards to improve the quality of our air. Research shows that these new standards are expected to save 625 lives and reduce hospitalisations by over 570 cases by the year 2020. They will also significantly improve the ability of New Zealanders to participate fully in work, recreation and education.

The majority of air pollution comes from domestic heating. Domestic solid fuel burners are the main source of fine particles or soot in most urban areas. That is why it is important for New Zealand families to install cleaner heating and make their homes more healthy and energy efficient in an affordable way. Insulation and more efficient forms of heating play an important part in this.

To help New Zealanders reduce the effects of home heating while staying warm, the Ministry for the Environment is working with a range of central and local government agencies on the Warm Homes project. The Warm Homes project aims to address the poor quality of heating in New Zealand homes, and at the same time improve air quality, energy efficiency and the health of all New Zealanders.

Responding to the need for local solutions has resulted in the Warm Homes trials. These initiatives are designed in conjunction with local communities, councils and manufacturers. The purpose of the case studies is to raise community awareness around the issue and to trial the Warm Home concept. This model consists of community workshops, the selection of homes, the re-fitting of homes and monitoring of homes after the re-fitting.

From all the information gathered, recommendations can be made to help people make informed decisions on how to warm their homes in ways that help reduce air pollution, improve health, and are energy efficient and cost effective. Recent studies from the Warm Homes project have been published on www.mfe.govt.nz

Warm Homes trial in Timaru

The Ministry for the Environment and Environment Canterbury, supported by the Timaru District Council, have joined together to lead the Warm Homes trial for Timaru. This trial will bring together energy saving measures with clean and efficient forms of home heating.

The three bodies have approached the South Canterbury Healthy Homes team to ask if any homes they have already insulated may benefit from being included in this pilot project. The South Canterbury Healthy Homes project is sponsored by LineTrust South Canterbury, Timaru District Council, The South Canterbury District Health Board, Contact Energy and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

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