Better insulation means less hospital visits
Asthma sufferer Molly Thompson-McVicar used to be a regular at Starship’s emergency department.
The seven-year- old also has severe allergies and when winter arrived so did the attacks. She would use Ventolin and steroids to help her breathe.
But that all changed in 2006 when Molly’s mother Jane Thompson heard about funding for home insulation.
Their rented Mt Eden villa was cold and damp but was fitted with insulation under the Snug Homes for Auckland Project - part of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s nationwide Energywise programme.
The programme, designed to help those on low incomes living in pre-1978 houses - with priority given to people with health issues - saw layers of reflective aluminum foil installed under-floor, and insulation put in the ceiling.
Little Molly has had only one major asthma attack and one day off school since then.
“ I’m just glad. I would hate to think what it would be like without it,” says Ms Thompson.
She says other parents with sick children should consider insulation.
“ There must be a lot of children out there suffering because their homes are cold and damp.”
Authority head Mike Underhill says studies have shown one in four Kiwi children suffers from asthma - one of the highest rates in the world, and one of the main reasons why children end up in hospital.
“ We know houses with insufficient insulation and poor heating are uncomfortable and unhealthy to live in.
“ That has a far-reaching effect because it so often leads to general ill health and respiratory sickness, including asthma, as well as energy waste and higher power bills,” says Mr Underhill.
A Wellington School of Medicine study shows insulated, draught-stopped homes heated with efficient and clean heating options such as heat pumps or flued gas appliances, improve the health and comfort of the occupants.
Auckland Regional Council environmental sustainability manager Gerda Kuschel says insulating homes makes good sense for lots of reasons - human health, air quality and your wallet.
“ Winter is traditionally the worst time in Auckland for air quality. It’s a double whammy when it gets cold. People start lighting their fires and that causes more air pollution.”
Grants are available for homeowners and landlords to help with the cost of installing insulation, clean heating systems, general energy efficiency measures and solar water heating. For more information visit www. energywise.govt.nz or call 0800 749 782.
Happy home: Jane Thompson reads for her daughter Molly Thompson-McVicar