By any measure, the National Government's home insulation scheme launched in 2009 has been a success.

So far, more than 172,000 houses have been insulated.

As has been noted in the Herald on Sunday series on this topic in recent weeks, the Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme has many flow-on benefits in terms of positive social and health outcomes for families living in warmer, drier homes.

We set up the scheme as a four-year programme to insulate 188,500 homes - but we are now doing an extra 40,000 thereby taking the total to around 230,000.


Nearly half of the houses done are for people on low incomes with a Community Services Card.

By the end of the current scheme, we expect to have insulated more than 100,000 low-income homes - an increase of 40,000 over the original forecast.

I acknowledge what the Herald on Sunday has been reporting - that cost is a factor for some and means they are not taking up the scheme for their homes.

I also acknowledge that while nearly 25,000 properties done under the scheme are rental properties, this is still a low uptake by landlords.

However, one thing I can say is that the Government is seeking to get its own house in order as the country's largest landlord.

That will be done by fulfilling our 2011 election promise to insulate every state house where practicable that was built before 1978, when insulation standards were introduced.

The aim is to do this by the end of next year - which will deliver obvious benefits for the predominantly low-income people in state housing.

Once our house is in order, we can have a conversation about considering regulations and/or incentives so private rental accommodation that does not have insulation is upgraded.


But while benefits of the scheme are recognised, no decisions have been made by the Government about extending it and I can't give any guarantees.

Since becoming the Government in 2008, we have made a large amount of progress with home insulation, despite the huge financial challenges we continue to face.

We've worked with our confidence and supply partners, the Maori Party, to target 20,000 low-income homes for insulation.

We've also worked with the Green Party on the insulation programme as part of our Memorandum of Understanding.

Working together, we've been able to fund the scheme to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars since it started, despite the global financial crisis and a multi-billion dollar rebuild in Canterbury.

I am proud of the progress that we have achieved in insulating homes, particularly considering these challenges we have been facing.