Source: Radio New Zealand, 13 March 2017
Non-profit research institute Motu Economics looked at the first
45,000 homes retrofitted with insulation under the Warm Up NZ
Programme, and found the scheme had a 6:1 benefit-to-cost
That meant that every dollar spent on insulation brought $6 of
Motu Economics senior fellow Arthur Grimes said the research
showed retrofitting insulation prevented one death for every 1000
The study used the same methodology for valuing life as
researchers did when assessing the benefits of roading
He told Nine to Noon, while
insulating homes brought only small energy benefits, the health
benefits were huge.
"People kept using pretty much the same amount of energy as
before but ended up with much warmer houses.
"[The benefits] were particularly strong for the elderly ... and
those who'd been hospitalised with a circulatory illness in
particular had much better life expectancy ... because they were
now living in warmer, drier houses."
Mr Grimes said the research proved what public health experts
had always believed.
"No one had enough data before anywhere in the world to work out
if these effects were truly there or not.
"I think ours was the first study to have enough houses
insulated to work out if this was the case or not, and it confirmed
what the public health experts expected."
University of Otago public health professor Philippa
Howden-Chapman said New Zealand's excellent health administrative
data, including pharmaceutical bills and records of hospital stays,
helped the study.
"[Motu Economics' research] is probably the strongest evidence
the government has about social investment, including that if
houses are warmer children are more likely to go to school and less
likely to get sick.
"Older people also benefit and yet it's being wound down in the
middle of next year even though improving the health of children is
still one of the top public sector targets."
Dr Howden-Chapman said the government also tried to target and
give greater subsidies to landlords to fit insulation to their
housing stock, but that had not worked so well.
She said that was partly because owner-occupiers had incentives
to insulate their homes, because it benefited their own health, but
the same was not true of landlords. The rental sector had some of
the coldest homes, and therefore the greatest need, she said.
She said between 600,000 and 900,000 homes still had no
insulation or inadequate insulation, which was extremely