The majority of people in New Zealand live in unhealthy homes that may be shortening their lifespans. This results from research by credible organisations that have researched the subject. Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills says, “It is intolerable that we have 42,000 hospital admissions and 15 deaths a year for children with conditions associated with poor housing and poverty”. Hospitals are full of people suffering from cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases relating directly to poor housing conditions.
It’s not just old State Houses and tenanted accommodation that is unhealthy. Hundreds of thousands of homes are still not fully insulated and many suffer other fundamental aspects that cause them to be unhealthy places to live. Current building regulations allow new homes to be built that do not achieve the levels expected in most OECD countries.
Otago University is taking a leading role in researching this important aspect of our lifestyle. Information regarding their research can be found at here.
The World Health Organisation recommends a room temperature of 18 degrees and 20 degrees if children, older people, or people who are unwell are in the home. Keeping bedrooms warm at night (minimum 18 degrees) is particularly important to protect lung health and prevent hospital admissions for illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, rheumatic fever.
Research on this subject has also been undertaken and can be read on the Healthy Housing website.
According to the WHO we should be maintaining a constant minimum temperature in our homes of 18 degrees celcius. The reality is that only a few rooms are heated. Often the living areas are heated but bedrooms are not and rely on bedding to keep the occupants warm at night. Under these conditions, the bedding will be naturally damp (and colder). Adding extra bedding does little to help. Sleeping in these conditions is resulting in illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, rheumatic fever.
Conversely, an insulated and well-ventilated home will be warmer. Drapes, carpets and bedding will be dry and much warmer. Having warm dry air movement throughout the whole home is critical to family health and wellbeing. Once the house is insulated, the solution to adequate automated 24-hour ventilation could be less than $2,000 to install. The benefits are priceless.