Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Home truths about benefits of heat pumps

Most who have installed units now rate them as ‘must have’.

Heat pumps are not only energy-efficient ways to keep homes warm, but half the respondents in a survey also believe they have other health benefits.

Of 856 people surveyed by consumer satisfaction ratings company Canstar Blue, 53 per cent said they had noticed improved health since installing a heat pump.

Eighty-nine per cent of respondents bought energy-efficient heat pumps, with half of people saying the machines had reduced their power bills and 88 per cent saying they had made their homes drier and easier to heat.

When broken down into regions, the survey - conducted for Canstar by Colmar Brunton Australia - showed Aucklanders especially felt the health benefits of heat pumps, with 71 per cent noticing an improvement.

Of Auckland respondents, 87 per cent said the machines were now a "must have" in any home they owned - compared with the 79 per cent average - and 93 per cent of Bay of Plenty respondents bought energy-efficient models. Canstar New Zealand general manager Derek Bonnar said people were reaping the benefits of the easy heating options.

"Many are even seeing improvements in their health, even if their homes were insulated prior to the heat pump's installation," he said.

According to World Health Organisation research, homes should be heated above 18C to ensure healthy conditions.

Mr Bonnar said: "More than a third of Kiwi heat pump owners are feeling the economic pinch, having to resort to reducing their spending on other items so they can afford to pay their power bills."

However, only 31 per cent of those surveyed had used government subsidies to buy their machines.

The Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes government subsidy programme offers free ceiling and underfloor insulation for low-income households occupied by people with health needs related to cold, damp housing.

Survey respondents rated Mitsubishi Electric as the preferred brand, followed by Daiken and Fujitsu, taking into account reliability, efficiency, value for money and other factors.

New units create warmer, drier house

In just three months, two heat pumps have stopped mould spots and made living far more comfortable for one Auckland family.

The Cox family installed two energy-efficient Panasonic heat pumps into their Howick home in July and although they had not noticed less winter illness, they were impressed with the easy heating option.

"It's fantastic, we were in a house with no heating at all for about three years," said graphic artist Rob Cox. "It is a pretty sunny house though, so it wasn't a major, but the big difference was that the winter chills have gone."

A timer system meant the family of five, including three kindergarten and school-aged children, could wake up to a warm house and there was no noticeable difference to power bills, he said.

"I haven't noticed any significant power bill increase. It might be a little bit, but not enough to make me think that we have to keep it on low or how many hours we have got the pump on for."

Mr Cox also said the house was definitely drier now.

"I had noticed last year we might have had a couple of spots of mould in a couple of places and I haven't seen that any more."

The family chose their model after it was recommended by relatives.

Heat is on

A consumer satisfaction survey of 856 heat pump owners shows:

• 53% noticed improved health
• 89% bought energy-efficient models
• 50% noticed cheaper power bills after installation
• 79% said that machines were now a "must have"
• 88% believe their homes were now drier and easier to heat
• 31% made use of government subsidies to buy their pump
Source: Colmar Brunton Australia on behalf of Canstar Blue.

- NZ Herald

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