Clean air rules hit use of woodburners

Last updated 12:58 19/03/2014

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Nelson has seen a 22 per cent drop in homes heated using wood.

The latest census 2013 figures show 1362 fewer wood-heated homes - down from 7554 at the previous census in 2006 to 6192.

The fall follows the Nelson City Council's clean air rules that have meant older woodburners could not be replaced in some parts of the city from January last year, and in homes without a woodburner, only electric heating such as heat pumps, low emission pellet fires or gas or diesel burners can be used.

That has seen a corresponding increase in Nelson homes heated by electricity, up from 13,263 to 15,522.

In contrast, the number of homes heated using wood in Tasman district, which does not have such stringent clean air rules, has risen, from 11,013 to 11,448.

The Nelson City Council is now under pressure from Grey Power to relax its woodburner rules, with its Nelson president Neville Male calling for urgency in its review as winter approaches, and for councillors to state where they stand on the issues.

The census nationally showed more people are using electricity to heat their homes, instead of gas, wood or coal. "Electricity was the most common heating fuel in 2013, and its use increased over the previous seven years," general manager of the 2013 census Gareth Meech said.

Last year electricity was used for heating in 79.2 per cent of occupied private dwellings, up from 74.8 per cent in 2006, and 72 per cent in 2001.

The Tasman region had the highest percentage of homes using solar power for heating, at 3.7 per cent, which is 669 homes, while in Nelson city 597 were solar powered.

The census also showed Tasman tops the country for highest home ownership.

Nationally, fewer people own their homes, with ownership dropping most for people in their 30s and 40s, according to official figures.

Statistics NZ figures from last year's census show home ownership is trending down, with just under half of all people living in a house they own or partly own. The 49.8 per cent home-ownership rate in the census was down from 53.2 per cent in 2006.

However, in the Tasman region last year, 75 per cent of households owned their home or held it in a family trust, a small fall from 75.8 per cent in 2006. Nelson was fourth behind Tasman, Marlborough and Southland, while Auckland was 15th.

The region with the lowest level of home ownership was Gisborne. In 2013, 59.2 per cent of households in this region owned their home or held it in a family trust, down from 61.8 per cent in 2006.

Last year nationally, 43 per cent of people in their 30s owned their own home, down from 54.6 per cent in 2001.

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But the decline in home ownership was seen across the board from people in their 20s to 70s.

The figures also show flats and apartments are becoming more common in big cities. They now make up 37 per cent of private homes in Wellington city.

And, while the standard Kiwi three-bedroom home remains most common, the last 12 years had seen steady growth in the number of four- and five-bedroom dwellings, Statistics NZ said.

- Nelson

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