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Housing and health

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Housing is one of the key social determinants of health. Adequate, affordable housing is a basic human right. Many homes in New Zealand are old, draughty and cold which leads to poor health outcomes.  

We spend much of our time indoors so the home environment is very important for our health.  Cold, damp and mouldy houses impact our health in several ways. It is recommended that indoor temperatures should be above 18°C and above 21°C for infants, elderly and the sick. At 16°C it is harder to breathe which affects our respiratory system and below 12°C our heart function can be affected. Damp housing can increase the risk of asthma onset and can make asthma symptoms worse. 

Any intervention that makes a house warmer, drier or safer has the potential to improve physical and mental health. The key strategies for keeping a warm home are insulation, ventilation, heating and tackling dampness. We have produced a brochure that summarises some simple and cost-effective steps for keeping a warm, dry home. You can view the in the related files sect

Insulation makes your home easier to heat and healthier to live. Insulation can keep the heat inside in winter and out in summer. If you own your home, you may be eligible for insulation funding through the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme. See the eligibility criteria on the EECA energywise website.

The SDHB are working with the Cosy Homes Trust to advocate for improved housing standards around the Otago region. The Cosy Homes Trust is available for anyone who is interested in understanding how to have a warmer, healthier home and they facilitate the pathway for owner-occupiers to apply for subsidised ceiling and underfloor insulation under the Warmer Kiwi Homes scheme.  

The SDHB has published the healthy homes brochure with helpful information on keeping a healthy home. See the Health homes brochure in related content below.

Email Jordana at Cosy Homes Trust (Otago) ( for more information on healthy homes education and to see if you, as a home-owner, may be eligible for subsidised insulation. 

For more information on the link between housing and health, please contact Public Health South