5000 Northland homes insulated

By Nikolai Smith

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Winter's cold lacks a punch this year for Kamo's Kairau family, whose house was retrofitted with insulation as part of the Healthy Homes Tai Tokerau scheme.

This month the project, established in 2007, will see the scheme's 5000th Northland home fitted out free and the Kairau's are one of the many families who have benefited from the scheme.

Gerald Kairau said his home qualified for a fit-out because he has a 6-year-old son, Braydyn, who has Downs Syndrome.

"Braydyn had health problems. He tends to struggle through winter with colds. We got the insulation through him. He was always cold. Braydyn's health has improved since the insulation was installed," Mr Kairau said.

The floors, walls and hot water cylinder in the house were all insulated and the home is now significantly warmer since the insulation was put in place 12 months ago. "It's noticeably different. It's heaps warmer. It's a hell of a lot better now. We're most definitely a happier family," said Mr Kairau.

Cheaper power bills are another big benefit of the insulation.

"It's definitely reduced the power bill. We're saving $20 to $30 a month on power," he said.

The scheme provides free retrofitted insulation for people who own their own home on a low income, and children and families with high health needs who live in rental homes. In addition, a health coordinator works with children and families with high health needs who live in rental homes. "We are so proud to have achieved that goal (5000th home retrofitted) and to know that those homes are now warmer, drier and healthier for families," said Chris Farrelly, Manaia Health PHO chief executive.

A subsidy is available which enables landlords to have houses retrofitted for a fraction of the cost of a standard retrofit. "This project makes so much sense - if we can keep people's homes warm and dry we can prevent illness and have less GP visits, hospital admissions and sick days off work and school. The difference this makes to health means this is one of the best investments we can make," he said.

The Northland homes have been insulated free through a partnership including ASB Community Trust, Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority, Northland PHOs, Northland DHB, Top Energy and Northpower.

- Northern Advocate

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