Energy research geekery – insulation

“Warm homes: Drivers of the demand for heating in the residential sector in New Zealand”, Philippa Howden-Chapman, et al, Energy Policy, 37 (2009), pp 3387-3399

New Zealand houses are cold and damp. This kills about 1,500 people per year.

We’ve a $300 million government scheme to insulate houses, open to all but with additional funding for low-income households. The push for this scheme was originally about saving power, but NZ homes are so cold that people seem to take the benefits as higher indoor temperatures. They
continue to buy about the same amount of energy for heating but live in healthier, warmer, drier homes.

There’s still a saving of 10-15% on energy use, but the main benefits of insulation are less people dying or getting sick. Whether that social benefit will pay back the $300 million investment, we don’t yet know, but it’s looking pretty good so far…


4 thoughts on “Energy research geekery – insulation”

  1. I believe that if homes are built well in climates like NZ and the UK, they actually don’t need *any* heating. I lived in a housing estate in Brixton that had this awesome quality. We didn’t actually turn the heating on the entire time I lived there – over a year. I thought it was ambient heat coming from the neighbours until we ended up having a chat about it one time and it turned out that they didn’t use their heating either.

    1. Yup. That’s the plan for the house we’re building, lots of insulation and in a sunny spot. And people give out heat themselves, you just need to ensure that it’s not wasted.

  2. Heh. It’s a great example about how a lot of environmentalists are usually penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to saving energy. It’s good to see people factoring in the cost of increased sickness and death.

  3. you and Norman (Susannah’s dad) should have a catch up again. he did lots of work in Tokoroa with insulation+better systems = less suffering. he also has a few new things in the pipeline that I’m sure you’d be interested in.

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