Whether you’re a tenant or a homeowner, it’s not always easy to tell why your home is cold, and what you can do about it. All you know is that it’s winter again, you’ve got three jumpers on and you’re scared to turn on the heating because the house just doesn’t seem to get any warmer! The issue may be poor or no insulation in your ceiling, underfloor and walls.

Why does insulation matter?

Heat escapes through the roof, floor and walls of any building, especially where there is no insulation or the existing insulation is thin, has gaps, tears is missing in places. Heat loss increases dramatically when the temperature outside is lower than inside, as heat moves from the warm inside to the cold outside. Good insulation slows down the heat loss considerably and makes homes more energy-efficient, comfortable and healthy. Insulation also makes homes easier and cheaper to heat, and adds lasting value to properties.

Does insulation need to be checked?

Insulation degrades over time, especially insulation that is has been installed more than ten years ago. Old insulation can benefit from a fix-up to fill gaps, or ideally a top-up or full replacement. Many older homes in New Zealand are not insulated at all or have older or badly installed insulation. Even new-builds can have these issues if the installers were not well trained or cut corners.

How do I know if my home is poorly insulated and what can I do?

Insulation can be complicated. There are different materials, features and benefits on the market, and no one-size-fits-all.

We recommend that ceiling and underfloor insulation be installed professionally. There are a number of professional insulation install companies in Wellington, including Sustainability Trust. Get in contact with one of these organisations and ask for a free insulation assessment as the first step.

If you are a homeowner and live in a lower deprivation zone, or hold a Community Services Card you may be eligible for the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme. Sustainability Trust is an approved provider for this subsidy scheme which can provide at least 80% off the full costs for insulation and efficient heating. Get in contact with the Trust for more information.

If you rent, ask your landlord if your home meets the government’s Healthy Homes Standards. A copy of the compliance report should be included with your tenancy agreement. If you think your property is not compliant, ask your landlord to get an assessment. Sustainability Trust can provide a complete Healthy Homes Standard assessment and report, as well as provide the necessary insulation, heating, ventilation upgrades required.