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State house insulation programme fast-tracked

Hon Maryan Street
Minister for Housing

15 May, 2008 Media Statement

State house insulation programme fast-tracked

A major Budget 2008 funding injection will see the state house insulation programme dramatically accelerated, improving tenant health and delivering energy cost savings, says Housing Minister Maryan Street.

“The new timeframe will see 21,000 state houses insulated within five years. Almost 12 homes a day will be insulated, doubling the pace of Housing New Zealand’s existing Energy Efficiency Retrofit campaign which began in 2001.”

Many homes in the South Island, where it is colder, have already been insulated and houses in Auckland, Wellington and Manawatu, where the greatest concentrations of the stock are, will be targeted next,” Maryan Street said.

“The package includes $22.4 million in new funding over four years, a further $1 million in the fifth year and $30 million in reprioritised spending. We appreciate the Green Party’s support in developing this initiative.”

“There is mounting evidence linking poor housing conditions with negative health and social outcomes. Over half of people in state homes are under the age of 20, and 10 per cent are over the age of 60,’’ Maryan Street said.

“Rising fuel and energy costs are set to put further pressure on low income households to keep warm and it is important that the government set an example for other landlords to follow. Insulated homes use about 20 per cent less energy than uninsulated ones.

“Housing New Zealand owns and maintains about 68,600 properties. Many were built before 1978, before insulation was mandatory. As a result, they have poor or no insulation and/or use inefficient heating, such as open fires,” she said.

About 16,500 state houses have been insulated and the fast-track will see the remaining homes without insulation retrofitted within five years. A retrofit includes insulation of floors and ceilings, hot water cylinder wraps and pipe lagging.

“Research confirms insulation is an appropriate first step in improving heat retention in older state homes. The warm air programme we are proposing will also see heaters installed where appropriate,” Maryan Street said.


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Energy Efficiency Retrofits Budget 2008
Questions and Answers

What are the objectives of the Energy Efficiency programme?
To provide warmer, healthier homes for state tenants.
• Lower power bills for consumers through greater energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions resulting from lower household energy consumption.
• To improve air quality by replacing dirty solid fuel burners and open fires with efficient and clean heating solutions.

Why is this type of programme necessary?
The Corporation owns and maintains about 68,600 properties throughout New Zealand. Many of these properties were built before 1978, prior to insulation becoming mandatory. Many of these homes have poor or no insulation and/or use inefficient heating such as open fires.

Studies undertaken by BRANZ (Household Energy End-Use Project, (HEEP)) show that over 30% of NZ homes are significantly below the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard for indoor temperature, which is 18 degrees C. The temperature for children and the elderly should be higher than this again.

What has been done to date?
The Corporation has been running a programme to progressively retrofit uninsulated state homes with energy efficient material since 2001. The Corporation has retrofitted about 16,500 houses.

What can the retrofit include?

• Insulation of the ceiling and under floor space

• Ground moisture barriers where appropriate

• Cylinder wraps and lagging of some under-floor or in-ceiling hot water pipes
• Draft stop seals to doors and window
• Installation of water efficient shower heads

• Installation of energy efficient light bulbs (compact fluorescent bulbs)

• Installation of an energy efficiency heater.
How much money is being spent to fast-track the programme?

The package includes $22.4 million in new funding over four years and a further $1 million in the fifth year. $30 million, as required, in reprioritised spending has been set aside to complete the programme.

How many homes will benefit from the new Budget funding to accelerate Housing New Zealand’s retrofit programme?

Around 21,000 state homes will be insulated over the next five years.


Which houses will be targeted first during the roll-out?

Most of the remaining houses to be insulated are in the North Island because homes in the coldest part of the country were insulated in the initial stages of the programme. The bulk of the new funding (about three-quarters) will be spent in the next two years. Remaining homes in the South Island, Auckland, Wellington and Manawatu will be targeted first, as this is where the greatest proportion of the houses is. In general it is more efficient to roll out the programme on a region-by-region basis, however if a household member has a severe respiratory problem, they are likely to be priortised.

Are there enough contractors to complete the programme within the timeframe?

It takes two weeks to train someone to insulate a house and a number of young people have so far gained employment through HNZC's contractors, who sometimes sub-contract community groups and trusts. HNZC is confident more contractors will be trained to ensure the five-year deadline is met.


Where will the tenants go while the retrofit is being carried out?

Disruption to tenants is minimal. They do not need to leave their homes for the period of the retrofit.

How will the programme be evaluated?

Up to 15 per cent of the newly insulated houses will be given a Home Energy Rating. The rating scheme was launched through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority by the Government last year and is an assessment of the energy efficiency performance of a home. It includes the building itself, and the two biggest energy users in a home - the room heating and the water heating systems. A qualified assessor evaluates the home, then generates a report containing star ratings showing the energy performance of the home, and professional recommendations on the most appropriate actions to improve the home's rating. Evaluating HNZC homes under the scheme will ensure the corporation has an independent assessment of its progress.


What research has been done on houses that have been retrofitted to find out if they were warmer, healthier and made an energy savings?

There is a strong body of research which links housing improvement (such as insulation) to direct energy savings and improved environmental and health effects. This evidence can be found in the following reports:

Energy efficiency interventions and house usage: An evaluation of energy efficiency initiatives undertaken by Housing New Zealand’ Fordlands Community Renewal Team. Prepared for Housing New Zealand by Diana Beattie (March 2008).Housing Heating and Health Study: Comparisons of characteristics of HNZC houses and households with non-HNZC houses and households. Prepared for Housing New Zealand by Philippa Howden-Chapman and David Shields of Otago University’s He Kainga Oranga/ Housing, Heating and Health Study (August 2007).
A cost-benefit evaluation of housing insulation: results from the New Zealand ‘Housing, Insulation and Health’ study. Prepared by Dr Ralph Chapman, Associate-Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman and Des O’Dea (October 2004).
Retrofit alternatives for State Houses in Cold regions of New Zealand Report No.2. Prepared by Bob Lloyd, Tim Bishop and Maria Callau. A research project by the Energy Management Group Physics Department – University of Otago – Dunedin (September 20070.


ENDS

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