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The house I live in is cold and damp – what are my options?

Everyone, regardless of age, reserves to live in a warm, dry home. Living in a home that is cold and damp is bad for your physical and mental health – plus they are more expensive to heat.

If you think your home is damp and cold, there are options available to you:

Own your own home

There are professional organisations that you can pay to check your home - visit the HomeFit website to find an assessor.

An assessment could show any number of improvements that could be made to help keep your home warm and dry: for example, replacing your current insulation, retrofitting your windows with double-glazing, adding carpet or rugs to hard-floor areas, purchasing thermal backed curtains, or blocking draughts. While all of these options cost money, there are subsidies and grants available that can help pay for them.

If you own your home, you may be eligible for a Warmer Kiwis Home grant, which pays for 80% of the total cost of insulation and/or an approved heater.

There are several curtain banks around the country too: a curtain bank provides repaired and thermal-backed curtains to low-income households and people with house health issues. Find a list of Curtain Banks on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.  

Rent a home

The Healthy Homes Standards for residential tenancies give a good framework for what is expected of a healthy home. To comply with the standards, a rental must have:

  • A fixed heater that can adequately heat the main living area to 18 degrees
  • Insulation that meets the 2008 Building Code
  • Adequate ventilation, including extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms and at least one window, door or skylight in other rooms that can open to the outside
  • Proper drainage
  • All draughts blocked

These minimum standards are being phased in for residential tenancies, but can be used to assess the health of any home, whether you are a homeowner or a renter. Consumer New Zealand has a free guide for renters.

If you are renting a home, you are not eligible for a Warmer Kiwi Homes grant yourself. However, your landlord is legally required to ensure the home you live in complies with the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act.

If your disability or illness means your heating bills are higher than is usual for a household of the same size, you can apply to Work and Income for a Disability Allowance to help with the extra costs of running your home.

Updated: 11 Jun 2024
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