A re­think is urged on un­flued gas heaters

Southern Real Estate Guide - - Front Page -

Pack­ing up your por­ta­ble gas heater now that sum­mer’s on its way? Bea­con Path­way gen­eral man­ager Nick Collins sug­gests you think care­fully about the costs of us­ing it again next win­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to Bea­con Path­way, un­flued gas heaters are used in a third of New Zealand homes, yet they shouldn’t be.

On the face of it there are many ben­e­fits to us­ing un­flued gas heaters. They seem to be a rel­a­tively cheap heat­ing op­tion, and they’re por­ta­ble too. But what makes un­flued gas heaters con­ve­nient also makes them un­healthy.

Be­cause they do not have fi xed vents to the out­side, they release danger­ous gases into the en­closed spa­ces they heat: Car­bon diox­ide, ni­tro­gen diox­ide and car­bon monox­ide in par­tic­u­lar.

Tests show that us­ing an un­vented gas heater for just one hour can re­sult in lev­els of ni­tro­gen diox­ide three times the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion limit for oc­cu­pant health.

Ex­po­sure to ni­tro­gen diox­ide in­flames the lungs and re­duces im­mu­nity to in­fec­tions. It pro­longs the ef­fects of colds, causes cough­ing and wheez­ing, and can re­sult in more fre­quent and more se­vere asthma at­tacks.

In high con­cen­tra­tion, car­bon monox­ide causes as­phyx­i­a­tion and death. Even at low lev­els it re­sults in tired­ness, clum­si­ness, loss of con­cen­tra­tion, nau­sea, dizzi­ness and headaches.

Quite sim­ply, by us­ing un­flued gas heaters we risk the health of our fam­i­lies. While it’s un­likely to have fa­tal con­se­quences, peo­ple liv­ing in homes heated this way are likely to be sicker more of­ten, with higher health costs and more time off school and work.

The health is­sues of un­flued gas are well-recog­nised over­seas where some coun­tries have banned their use in homes.

Al­though New Zealand hasn’t yet re­stricted use of un­flued gas heaters, warn­ings about their use have been is­sued by gov­ern­ment bodies in­clud­ing the Min­istry of Health, EECA, Min­istry of Con­sumer Af­fairs and re­gional pub­lic health ser­vices.

Un­flued gas heaters do more than release toxic gases into our homes; they are also a prime source of con­den­sa­tion, re­leas­ing as much as one litre of mois­ture into the air for ev­ery hour of use.

The re­sult is that many peo­ple us­ing un­flued gas heaters si­mul­ta­ne­ously run a de­hu­mid­i­fier to re­duce mois­ture lev­els in the air.

In fact BRANZ sur­veys show that house­holds with un­flued LPG heaters are twice as likely to have a de­hu­mid­i­fier.

At be­tween 14 and 42 cents per litre of wa­ter re­moved, de­hu­mid­i­fiers are ex­pen­sive to run. Get­ting rid of in­door mois­ture is the hid­den cost of us­ing un­flued gas heat­ing.

Not only that, but where there’s con­den­sa­tion, there’s mould. Mould is not just un­sightly and dam­ag­ing, it’s un­healthy too, and can ag­gra­vate res­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses like asthma.

With spring here, many of us are pack­ing up our heaters. Bea­con Path­ways ad­vises those with un­flued gas heaters to con­sider re­tir­ing them for good and re­plac­ing them with a healthy, clean heat­ing de­vice. It will keep your fam­ily health­ier and might save you more than just money in the long run.

The Gov­ern­ment’s Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart pro­gramme of­fers fund­ing for in­su­la­tion and clean, ef­fi­cient heat­ing – take them up on it and en­joy a health­ier win­ter next year. www.en­er­gy­wise. govt.nz

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, a range of af­ford­able al­ter­na­tive heat­ing op­tions and healthy home-heat­ing tips, visit:

www. bea­con­path­way. co.nz

http: / / www. smar ter­homes.org.nz/ en­ergy/ heat­ing

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