Labour backs warmer homes

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 22/07/2014
phil twyford
BARRY HARCOURT/ Fairfax NZ

IMPORTANT MOVE: Labour spokesman for housing Phil Twyford, left, helps Awarua Synergy underfloor insulation team leader Shannan Kapene make a southern home warmer.

Phil Twyford
IMPORTANT MOVE: Labour spokesman for housing Phil Twyford helps make a southern home warmer.

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A warm home can cut millions from the nation's health bill, Labour says.

Crawling out from under a Southland home, Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said damp, cold homes were a major cause of health problems in the south and across New Zealand.

Twyford joined Invercargill Labour candidate Lesley Soper and Awarua Synergy general manager Sumaria Beaton to talk warm homes in Invercargill yesterday.

Too many Kiwi kids who grew up, especially in low-income households, were getting respiratory diseases because of damp cold homes, Twyford said.

A warm home would keep many people out of hospital and save doctor visits, he said.

The nation's medical bill would also be slashed.

"Extensive public health research has shown for every dollar you invest in insulation and heating you can save five dollars in future health care expenditure," he said.

Making homes warm and healthy was so important Labour had a policy to change the Residential Tenancies Act, he said.

A "warrant of fitness" Bill would set minimum standards for landlords to meet certain standards for insulation and heating before a property was let, he said.

"Effectively we will make it illegal for any landlord to rent out a house if it is not insulated and doesn't have a fixed heating source."

Southland home owner Matt Wass and his partner are making the family home warmer for their young family.

Through Awarua Synergy the Wass family have qualified for free insulation of their timber house on the outskirts of Invercargill.

Matt and one of his boys suffer with asthma, which is exacerbated by the cold.

"The insulation will make a huge difference on those cold and frosty days," he said.

Beaton said many Southland home owners could qualify for free or subsidised insulation with a personal and home assessment.

Awarua Synergy manage the Southland Warm Homes project on behalf of the Southland Warm Homes Trust.

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