Gas heaters in the firing line
Portable gas heaters could be outlawed in rentals as the Government prepares to consult on new laws around heating homes.
Minimum heating standards for rental homes throughout the country - including the types of heaters landlords can provide will be discussed later this year as a result of the new Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017, Housing Minister Phil Twyford said.
‘‘If a decision was made to not allow landlords to provide portable gas heaters for use in rental homes, it would not result in a ban on the sale of such heaters, only a prohibition on landlords using them to meet their obligations under the Act,’’ Twyford said.
That wouldn’t mean tenants could not bring their own heaters, but landlords would be able to write a clause into contracts which would ban tenants from using them, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
But public health expert and Associate Professor Nevil Pierse said these cheap gas heaters are adding to respiratory problems and New Zealand should join the likes of Canada, Ireland and New South Wales and ban them altogether.
Portable, or unflued, gas heaters do not have fixed, attached vents to the outside, so they release nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide into the air, at levels high enough to aggravate, or even cause, asthma in children, Pierse said.
He said there’s ‘‘no doubt’’ these heaters contribute to respiratoryrelated overnight hospitalisations which, in 2013, accounted for 1 in 10 of all overnight hospital stays.
Children in homes with unflued gas heaters miss more days of school, and homes which use these heaters have three times the amount of dangerous nitrogen dioxide, which can aggravate asthma, he said.
Government officials said a blanket ban isn’t on the cards, but already strongly advised against them as primary heating options.
WorkSafe and the Ministry of Health have advice on their websites for people who use portable unflued gas heaters, which state adequate ventilation is necessary and people with respiratory issues should take extra care.
WorkSafe said they were more suitable for supplementary heating than as a primary heating source.