Insulating social housing on West Coast
CEA helping the Grey District to Keep Warm
This year Community Energy Action (CEA) has been working with Grey District Council (GDC) to improve the warmth and health of homes on the West Coast, with support from Mitre 10 Mega Greymouth. In July, CEA assessed 118 elderly housing properties belonging to GDC, and insulated where required/possible. This resulted in 103 houses receiving ceiling and/or underfloor insulation, provided by Mitre 10 and installed by CEA, while the remaining 15 homes were provided with duvets, hot water bottles and scoopys (used to remove condensation).
Tenants were also provided with advice and information on behavioural changes that could help make their homes healthier. This included advice about ventilation, utilising solar gain, and removing condensation. The goal of this information is to ensure that the tenants play an active role in keeping their homes warm, dry, and energy efficient, which can improve their health and wellbeing, and have a positive effect on the wider community.
An interim evaluation of these tenants found that 91% identified an improvement in warmth and dryness after 2 months. Despite the short time frame between installation and evaluation, one third of occupants reported the insulation has already made a positive change to their lives. In addition to the immediate benefits in health and wellbeing to the current tenants, insulation is regarded as having a life span of forty years; this means it provides ongoing benefits to future occupants of the home.
Sarah Conroy from GDC says “we were excited by the opportunity to work with CEA to bring our units up to standard. We have already had numerous tenants mention how much warmer their home is”.
Findings of the Canterbury Healthy Homes programme (2011-2014), released earlier this year, clearly show both health and cost benefits of installing insulation to cold, damp homes to the wider community. The analysis of this study, based on 900 Canterbury DHB patients, showed a 29% reduction in hospital bed days for high health needs patients after their homes had insulation installed. A high proportion of these patients were over 60 years old. This equated to a savings of nearly $1m for the Canterbury DHB in the first year following the programme.
Chief executive of CEA, Caroline Shone says “The Grey District Council and particularly the housing department have been extremely proactive in ensuring that their elderly homes were insulated to standard. Our installers, assessors, and the team in the office, in fact all involved in arranging this programme have found Coasters to be a pleasure to deal with, and we sincerely hope we can continue help more people across the West Coast in the future”.
The benefits of an insulated home for both the occupant and the wider community are irrefutable. CEA is committed to improving the health and warmth of housing across the West Coast, for all residents. Subsidies are available for landlords whose tenants hold a community services card. For any household that does not qualify for a subsidy, CEA is offering 25% off for a limited time. Additionally, CEA can also provide free, recycled curtains to any home that needs them, and advice and information for residents about how to keep warm, dry, and healthy in their homes.