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Link between energy and health important

Link between energy and health important

A new report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment recognising that using energy efficiently has a positive impact on health and wellbeing, and recommending that public health promotion be a key objective of future energy strategy, is being welcomed by the Green Party.

The report, Healthy Wealthy and Wise, which makes a number of recommendations for improving public health by improving energy efficiency of homes, was released this afternoon.

Housing Spokesperson Sue Bradford says: "It is great to see the link between energy efficiency and public health being acknowledged by this report. Investment in programmes such as Healthy Homes and targeted low interest loans for energy efficient investment in homes would produce beneficial results.

"Achieving good public health isn't just up to the health sector. We need a whole of government approach to public health and to consider the role that housing and energy efficiency policies play. Participants in the Housing, Insulation and Health study visited the doctor less and took fewer sick days after their houses had been insulated. Our energy and housing policies need to take these benefits into account.

Housing conditions are known to contribute to the prevalence of many illnesses, including asthma, allergies and respiratory diseases, meningitis and rheumatic fever.

Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says: "We spend a lot of money treating these illnesses. It's time to invest in preventing them, and this report highlights that investing in warmer, drier homes is an excellent way to do this."

The Green Party has been a leader on this issue for some time advocating over many years for better insulation solar design and damp-proofing.

Ms Bradford says: "We also welcome other recommendations in the Healthy Wealthy and Wise report, such as a call for greater support for microgeneration technologies to encourage communities to become energy self-sufficient, and a call for the sale of unflued gas heaters to be phased out.

"These heaters, a popular and readily available source of heat in New Zealand homes, are expensive to run, dangerous, and emit a wet heat which can actually contribute to dampness and associated health problems. They have already been banned in Canada, several US states, and Victoria in Australia. We support their removal from sale, as long as it is accompanied by effective measures to improve energy efficiency so that no-one is left in the cold," Ms Bradford says.

ends

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