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Fuel Poverty in NZ survey complete

Community Energy Network - MEDIA RELEASE

A campaign to raise the awareness of fuel poverty in New Zealand is coming to a close and with the end of winter also approaching; many kiwi families will be looking forward to warmer nights, and lower power bills.

Fuel Poverty, a term used to describe conditions where a household can not keep adequately warm at a reasonable cost was the focus for the Warmer Winters, campaign launched by Community Energy Network in December 2012. The campaign included a survey to find out the conditions Kiwis living in fuel poverty face on a daily basis. A family in Northland has received the Warmer Winters prize of a $250 credit to their power bill, an incentive given by Community Energy Network to encourage people to share their stories about living in cold, damp houses.

‘The family receiving the credit has members who are asthma sufferers, they often feel cold in their home, and struggle to pay their power bills, even seeking WINZ assistance at times to help’, say Jo Wills, Executive Officer, CEN. ‘While we are pleased to take the pressure off this family for a month, we know that unless more comprehensive solutions such as national standards for housing performance, combined with education programmes and fuel payments, next winter this family and many others will be faced with the same sickness and financial strain.’

With over 400 survey respondents, the health conditions experienced by the recipient of the credit were common. Asthma and bronchitis were the most commonly cited illness 43 percent and 35 percent respectively; over 60 percent struggled to pay power bills with the average winter bill $300 per month. The only choice for 20 percent of respondents wanting to keep warm was to use less heating (to avoid high power bills) and wear more clothes and blankets.

The survey responses, unsurprisingly, have painted a bleak picture for many kiwis over winter; cold houses, respiratory illness, high power bills, financial pressure and very little comfort. It’s this situation, Kiwis living in low income communities and in poor housing Community Energy Network is addressing in their 20th September conference; Achieving Affordable Warmth for all NZ Families at Te Papa, Wellington.

Issues being addressed at the conference include fuel poverty, health, community housing, minimum energy performance housing standards, policy implications as well as the cost of electricity. Supportive of a WoF for rental properties, Community Energy Network has first hand knowledge of the paradigm shift needed in the residential housing sector to achieve affordable warmth. The conference seeks to draw out a collaborative sector approach to address the conditions which keep low income households trapped in a fuel poverty cycle. For conference information contact Jo Wills jo@communityenergy.org.nz


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