Insulating a house is like wrapping it in a warm thermal blanket, with benefits to both tenants and landlords.
For tenants, the rental will be easier to heat and there are clear health benefits, especially for people with respiratory conditions like asthma.
Landlords will also benefit from longer tenancies and reduced house maintenance, according to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). General Manager Residential Robert Linterman says if you look at property sales listings, insulation is increasingly promoted as both a selling and rental point.
“After four years of Government insulation programmes, people are now very aware of the benefits of insulation. I think tenants are more likely to stay longer in houses that are warmer and more comfortable.”
Insulated houses are also drier, making them easier to maintain and less susceptible to mould, Mr Linterman says.
“If you combine insulation with adequate ventilation, you solve a lot of maintenance issues associated with damp houses.”
The good news for landlords is that government funding for insulation is available for landlords – if tenants are eligible for the targeted Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme. More than 16,000 homes built before the year 2000 have already been insulated across the country in the first year of this programme, which has two more years to run.
Tenants may be eligible if the main tenant who has signed the lease has a Community Services Card, and there are children in the house under 17 years or adults over 65 years. In addition there are some special projects being run with district health boards or other health services, which refer patients with very high health needs, Mr Linterman says.
Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes is free to eligible tenants but landlords may be asked to make a small contribution, he says.
“EECA is taking this approach because many low - income households are living in rentals. For landlords this is a fantastic opportunity to improve their rental property and make living conditions healthier for tenants. It’s a no brainer for landlords.”
The programme is available in most parts of the country. Mr Linterman advises landlords the first step is to talk to tenants and get agreement because eligibility rests with the tenant.
Landlords or tenants can then call an insulation service provider in their region (a list of service providers can be found on the ENERGYWISE website www.energywise.govt.nz/free-insulation). Landlords will be asked to sign a form stating they agree for the property to be insulated and eligible tenants will need to show they do have a Community Service Card and meet the eligibility criteria.
If tenants are not low-income, there are other options available. Many councils and banks are letting property owners add the cost of insulation to their rates or mortgage. This will usually cost from around $9.00 a week. There is a list of banks and councils making this offer at http://www.energywise.govt.nz/funding-and-programmes/insulation-and-clean-heating/payment-options
Mr Linterman advises landlords to get three quotes for insulation and compare like with like, including product and checks after the install. A list of products accepted for use under the Government insulation programme is at http://www.energywise.govt.nz/node/4910, as well as recommended thicknesses of insulation for different parts of the country.
“If you have to make a choice, ceiling insulation is generally the easiest, cheapest and most effective insulation to install in your home,” Mr Linterman says.
Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes eligibility: