Most modern New Zealand homes are designed and built to provide a warm and comfortable environment for the families living in them. Things like modern building materials, double glazing, insulation in ceilings, floors and walls, and highly efficient heating systems i.e. heat pumps, provide a cosier, healthier home for those fortunate inhabitants.
Not everyone is so lucky. A recent study by Statistics NZ found that a third of older New Zealand homes are too cold in the winter. In 2018, they measured the temperature four times a year in 6700 New Zealand homes and found that that 36 per cent of the houses were under 18 degrees Celsius during winter. As a reference, The World Health Organisation advises that indoor temperatures should be at least 18 degrees but, ideally, they should be as high as 21 degrees in winter.
However, in the New Zealand study, a third of the homes didn’t even reach 18 degrees, with 16 being the average temperature. Of people living in homes where the recorded temperature was 16 degrees or less, 45% of respondents said they could see their breath inside during the winter months and 36% rated their house as “always or often cold.”
Being cold doesn’t just make someone feel uncomfortable. It can also make them sick, with respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular disease being more prevalent in cold homes.
The study highlights an alarming lack of efficient heat sources in New Zealand homes. Woodburners are seen as cheap long-term options, requiring no power to run, but as they’re only 80% efficient in terms of heat output, they often fail to bring a room up to the desired temperature. (Alarmingly, gas fires are even worse, with their heat output efficiency being known to fall as low as 30%!)
Heat pumps with a heat output efficiency of around 400% are widely regarded as the most effective ways to heat homes, and with the latest models being incredibly energy-efficient, they are increasingly cheap to run. When combined with good insulation, heat pumps are able to operate even more efficiently. There are two more benefits with heat pumps too:
- Once a room reaches a healthy temperature e.g. 21 degrees Celsius, a heat pump can automatically keep that temperature at a constant level.
- They are able to cool a room in summer.
This second point is highly relevant to the NZ Statistics survey which found that homes that were too cold in winter were also too hot in summer. The average temperature of 25 degrees and above is considered far too warm, with cardiovascular problems being common during heatwaves.
A leading supplier and installer of Panasonic heat pumps in Auckland, as well as other leading brands, says the survey backs up what they’ve been telling their customers for years. A heat pump can bring a room up to a warmer temperature in winter, and down to a cooler temperature in summer; this makes it an all-in-one solution for an issue causing health problems and plenty of discomfort in far too many Kiwi homes.