Help for fam­i­lies to heat cold homes

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - JEN­NIFER EDER

No more sleep­ing bags in the lounge, no more socks for the mid­night trip to the bath­room.

Win­ter at Erin Buchan and Andrew Bur­row’s house will be much more com­fort­able when the ren­tal prop­erty gets floor and ceil­ing in­su­la­tion later this month.

The young fam­ily is one of more than 150 to ben­e­fit from the Warmer Health­ier Homes pro­gramme in Marl­bor­ough in the past two years.

Stay-at home mum Erin says she is most ex­cited about hav­ing lower power bills, af­ter try­ing to heat her old, cold house.

‘‘Our power bills have been like $500, but we have the heat pump in the lounge, the fan heater, and the panel heater in the hall­way run­ning all the time.

‘‘We get the con­den­sa­tion on the walls and the win­dows ... you get mould on the win­dowsills, so you have to wipe them down ev­ery morn­ing.’’

Erin, Andrew and their sons, Matthew, 3, and Jack, 1, all have asthma, which strikes when it is par­tic­u­larly cold, Erin says.

They are es­pe­cially grate­ful to their land­lord, who must pay half of the cost of in­su­la­tion.

‘‘He’s a great guy. We’re just try­ing to keep our fam­ily warm, and he’s even bought us new cur­tains and things like that,’’ Erin says.

More than 600 homes have been in­su­lated through the pro­gramme in the top of the South.

To be el­i­gi­ble for the Warmer Health­ier Homes pro­gramme, fam­i­lies need a Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Card or Su­per Gold Card, and must be liv­ing in a home built be­fore 2000.

Ten­ants can ask Ab­so­lute En­ergy or their GP about the pro­gramme, while home­own­ers need to be re­ferred by Nel­son Marl­bor­ough Health, pri­mary care health pro­fes­sion­als, or non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions that em­ploy a health worker.

The pro­gramme is partly funded by the Marl­bor­ough District Coun­cil, Nel­son Marl­bor- ough Health, the Rata Foun­da­tion, and the En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency and Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity.

Land­lords are asked to pay half of the cost, while home­own­ers are asked to pay 20 per cent.

Fund­ing for the pro­gramme is lim­ited, so re­fer­rals are pri­ori­tised for fam­i­lies like Erin’s with chil­dren un­der 5-years-old, or peo­ple with res­pi­ra­tory and other chronic con­di­tions that are wors­ened by cold and damp liv­ing con­di­tions.

Ab­so­lute En­ergy as­sesses homes and in­stalls the in­su­la­tion, and pro­vides ad­vice to fam­i­lies on how to re­duce heat loss and con­serv­ing power in or­der to keep the power bills down.


Andrew Bur­row with son Matthew, 3, have been us­ing hot wa­ter bot­tles and sleep­ing bags to keep warm.

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