A healthy home is a combination of three key ingredients: insulation, heating and ventilation, which work together to: 

  • Keep air fresh and dry
  • Remove moisture and reduce the risk of mould and mildew growth

  • Reduce maintenance costs in your home, and
  • Keep your home at healthy, comfortable temperatures year-round.

Healthy homes are warm, dry, uncrowded and smoke free. 

What is a healthy home?

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A healthy home is a combination of three key ingredients: insulation, heating and ventilation, which work together to: 

  • Keep air fresh and dry
  • Remove moisture and reduce the risk of mould and mildew growth

  • Reduce maintenance costs in your home, and
  • Keep your home at healthy, comfortable temperatures year-round.

Healthy homes are warm, dry, uncrowded and smoke free. 

Is your home unhealthy?

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If your home is ‘unhealthy’ you and your whānau are more likely to get sick with:

  • Chest infections
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Strep throat
  • Rheumatic fever (which can cause permanent heart damage) 


Your home may be unhealthy if:

  • It is very cold in winter and difficult to heat
  • The family sleep together in the same room to keep warm in the winter
  • Children share a bed or there are more than 2 people in a bedroom
  • You use an unflued gas heater
  • Water drips down the windows or walls
  • There is a damp or musty smell
  • There is mould (black dots) on the wall or ceiling
  • There are gaps in the windows or doors that let wind through
  • People smoke inside


Get assistance from Work and Income

Some families may be able to get help from Work and Income to keep your home warm and healthy, or if your children are unwell.

Home insulation

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Insulation keeps heat inside your home in winter, and keeps it out in summer. This makes it easier to warm your home. By having a properly insulated home, you can save on heating costs and make your home healthier.

You may be eligible for insulation installed for free through the Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme. This includes people renting properties, although there may be a small charge for landlords of eligible tenants.

Some local or regional councils also offer insulation deals – check with them to see what's available.


Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority 

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) promotes energy efficiency, energy conservation and the use of energy from renewable sources. For information about on variety of housing topics visit:

The Energy Spot

This website has great suggestions about ways to make the most of the energy you use every day.


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Heating makes your home healthier and more comfortable to live in. Heating also reduces the growth of mould, mildew and dust mites. The World Health Organization and New Zealand’s Ministry of Health recommend these temperatures in your house:

  • a minimum of 18˚C during the day, or a minimum of 20˚C for more vulnerable groups like children, the elderly and people who are ill
  • a minimum of 16˚C in your bedroom overnight.                                                                                                                                                           

Heater type

For larger rooms that you want to heat regularly, like a living room, a fixed heater with lower running costs and more heat output is recommended.
Electric heaters may be enough for smaller rooms and rooms you only heat occasionally, like bedrooms. Avoid unflued gas heaters (with pipes fixed to the walls or portable) which release toxic fumes and moisture, and open fires which are draughty and inefficient.

Heater size

Match the size of your heater to the space you want to heat. An oversized or undersized heater will struggle to heat your room effectively, and can cost more to run. Ask your heating supplier for advice about what size heater will suit your needs.
For more information about heating options for your home please refer to the links below: 

Unflued gas heaters and portable LPG heaters

Unflued gas heaters, including portable LPG heaters, don’t have vents or chimneys to carry away emissions like water vapour, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. These emissions can make your house damp and harm your health, especially if there isn't enough fresh air ventilation. Portable LPG heaters can also be a fire risk.

If you do use an unflued gas heater, keep at least one window open to allow fresh air to enter the room and waste gases to escape. Never use them in bedrooms.

Portable LPG heaters are also the most expensive form of heating. If you can’t afford an effective, fixed heating option, consider portable electric heaters. They’re cheap to buy, cheaper to run and much safer than portable LPG heaters. For more information, click on the link below:


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Good ventilation removes day-to-day moisture, maintains air quality and makes your home healthier.

Having a draughty house is not the same as having good ventilation. As houses get more airtight, they become easier to heat, but good ventilation is still important to stop inside air getting stale and damp. Click on the links below for more information:


Cold, damp housing

During the winter months we spend a great deal of our time indoors, most of that at home. But what if the home we live in is cold and damp?

Living conditions in the home have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. Cold, damp housing allows the growth of mould, fungi and dust mites; all of which can worsen asthma and respiratory illnesses.  Click for fact sheets on:

Cold, damp housing

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Mould in homes

More than one-third of all homes in New Zealand have mould issues. Mould is a type of fungi, which can be found indoors and outdoors.

What causes mould?

  • Mould thrives in moist conditions. When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mould growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem is not discovered or addressed.
  • Showers or even cooking can add moisture to the air in your home. The amount of moisture that the air in your home can hold depends on the temperature of the air. As the temperature goes down, the air is able to hold less moisture. This is why moisture condenses on surfaces in cold weather (for example, drops of water form on the inside of a window).
  • When mould reproduces it releases tiny spores into the air that can be breathed in. It is these spores that can cause health problems.

Associated health problems

  • Inhaling or touching mould or mould spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rash (dermatitis).
  • Moulds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mould. In addition mould exposure can irritate eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs of both mould-allergic and nonallergic people.

How to remove mould

  • Consult a professional if you have existing respiratory conditions like asthma, emphysema or chronic bronchitis, or if the affected area is large or caused by leaking sewage or other contaminated water.

Follow these steps to remove mould:

  • Identify and fix the water/moisture problem.
  • Open windows and doors to increase air circulation into the area you are cleaning up.
  • Discard any porous material contaminated with mould (such as carpet, ceiling tiles etc). These items will need to be removed and wrapped before being discarded.
  • Spray the affected area with undiluted white vinegar. Access difficult areas (corners) by applying the vinegar with a toothbrush. The vinegar will need time to work, so apply it and leave. In a few days clean up the area with soap/detergent and water using a clean cloth or sponge.
  • Alternatively, use 1.5 cups of household bleach to 4 litres of cold water. Apply the solution to the affected area. Leave for approximately 10 minutes and then rinse completely with hot water.

How to prevent mould

Mould will not grow in your home if moisture is not present. If you clean up the mould but don’t fix the water/moisture problem then, most likely, the mould problem will return.

Follow these steps to prevent mould:

  • Fix leaks and seepage.
  • Wipe away excessive moisture build-up on windows and doors.
  • Cover dirt under the house with a plastic cover to prevent moisture coming up from the ground.
  • Ensure the crawl space is well ventilated.
  • Use extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture to the outside (not into the ceiling cavity).
  • Dry clothes outside rather than inside.
  • Turn off certain appliances (e.g. unflued gas heaters) if you notice moisture on windows and other surfaces.
  • Open windows and doors between rooms during the day to increase air circulation.
  • Open curtains to allow sunlight to penetrate the
  • Ensure adequate heating and insulation.