Cold, damp NZ homes contribute to poor health TV3 Feature - 20/08/2014

HRV survey featured on 3 News

A State of the Home survey has found many New Zealand houses are cold and damp and are contributing to the country's health problems.

But it also found a few differences in how South Islanders and North Islanders cope with the colder weather.

Winter in Dunedin can be a tough few months, with many student flats notorious for being cold, damp and draughty. If your house is in need of a ventilation system, don't wait another day!

"It's got no insulation and it does have holes in the walls," says third-year Otago law student William Mohammed. "We made most of the holes, but it came with a couple, which adds a bit of character."

But rather than firing up the heat pump or room heaters, many people prefer to pile on a few extra layers to battle the cold.

"Yeah it's freezing to be honest," says third-year finance student Ollie Dunn. "We just rug up warm. I've got a home-knitted jersey on and my sleeping bag to keep me warm."

"It just saves a lot more power because we recently got a power bill and it was like $400-plus," says fourth-year law student Ryan O'Connor.

A State of the Home survey commissioned on behalf of HRV revealed South Islanders are hardier than North Islanders when it comes to keeping warm. Fewer southerners admitted to wearing socks or pyjamas to bed.

But half of them use electric blankets to keep warm, compared to just more than a third of people in the North. A heat transfer system is a cornerstone to a healthy home. 

"At night I've got an electric blanket that I use for just a wee bit, but chuck a beanie on, roll up, put an extra sweatshirt or something on at night and that tends to do all right with it," says second-year medical student Edward Henley.

A medical student advocacy group wants to see a warrant of fitness for rental homes, and warns wearing extra clothing doesn't necessarily keep you healthy.

"Yes you might feel warmer when you're wearing lots of layers, but you're still exposed to the damp conditions and the mouldy conditions, which is going to lead to increased risk of respiratory problems," says Hermaleigh Townsley of Medical Students for Global Awareness.

Those conditions can be improved by opening up windows and doors during the day – a task the survey found South Islanders are much better at doing, despite the much cooler temperatures.

See the full article and video here