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Keeping warm a matter of life and death: Greens

28 May 2008

Keeping warm a matter of life and death: Greens

News that an extra 1600 New Zealanders die every winter due mostly to cold, damp and poorly maintained homes underpins the significance of the Green Party's successful Budget initiative to insulate all state houses, Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"The analysis by Otago University lecturers that an extra 1600 people a year die during the winter months highlights the necessity of investing in the health of all New Zealanders by effective home insulation," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"That's why we must step up the funding for insulating owner-occupied homes."

The Green Party's Budget initiative of $53.4 million will ensure all remaining 21,000 state houses are insulated within five years, doubling the pace of the existing programme. The programme will also draught-proof windows and doors, wrap hot water cylinders, install efficient shower heads and lights, lag pipes and, if appropriate, fit new energy efficient home heating.

"However, we still have a long, long way to go in insulating other homes. The Energywise Homes programme of grants to households with community services cards will struggle to complete 12,000 a year. The loan programme for middle income households is also limited in its funding.

"We are proud to secure a better, healthier future for state house tenants, half of whom are children and one in ten are elderly. Living in warmer, drier homes is expected to halve the number of respiratory symptons and school absences.

"Now the Government needs to respond to this report and increase funding for grants and loans for other homes.

"Electricity bills are expected to drop by one fifth as homes become more efficient to heat. It is vital to provide this support before the Emissions Tranding Scheme comes in. That will create higher power prices, but if we upgrade our homes we can still have lower power bills," Ms Fitzsimons says.


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