Bill Dahlberg.

First fifty homes warmed up in time for winter

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Fifty Nelson homes will have a warmer start to winter this year thanks to a local initiative to warm up older homes.

The Warmer Healthier Homes project has insulated 48 homes, with 115 due to be finished by the end of June.

Steering group member Bill Dahlberg says it’s just the beginning, with the region’s councils now on the verge of joining the group, helping to extend the reach of the programme.

The programme began retro-fitting its first home late last year and uses money from the Canterbury Community Trust, government group ECCA, and staff support from the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board and Nelson Tasman Housing Trust. It also works in partnership with Absolute Energy which is doing the installations.

Nelson City Council has included $100,000 to go to the project in the draft long term plan and Bill says it that goes ahead it will help retrofit hundreds more homes.

“Any money put in by the council will be matched be the Canterbury Community Trust, and that money together will be matched by ECCA. So that $100,000 from the council is really worth a lot more.”

Bill says the group are also talking with the Tasman District Council and Marlborough District Council.

Targeted homes are those lived in by those who need to stay warm. All of the referrals so far have come from the district health board or Primary Care health professionals. But others can be referred from various community groups.

Bill says there are around 5900 homes in Nelson that need to be retro-fitted with insulation, and another 5000 each in Tasman and Marlborough.

“Maybe 20 per cent of those are part of that really needy group so that is 1000 here, in Tasman and in Marlborough. The target is 150 this year, next year we’ll aim to do something like 300, maybe.”

He says the governance structure is in place and if the councils support the project it could be self-sustainable after the first three years.

“It’s really exciting. Everybody understands that warming up someone’s house covers lots of areas in the community. This is the one where you can make a lot of difference across all the sectors.”
He says it was the support of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board that helped kick the project off.

“When I met [DHB chief executive] Chris Fleming, they were in the red and struggling with their own capital and getting their budgets in place. But he loved the project so what he gave me was some resources – people.

“They did all that technical stuff and knew how to meet the right people. The DHB and the Canterbury Community Trust were the two major cogs in getting us going,” he says.