Grant helps warm Waikato student’s research

27 July 2010

Waikato University masters student Yvonne Phillips is investigating home energy efficiency in the Waikato, helping community organisations identify how much financial incentive would be required to get owners to insulate their homes, particularly those who aren’t planning on insulating.

Her research has been helped by a $5000 Trust Waikato Student Community Grant - a grant given to research that has the potential to improve the lives of people in the Waikato community.

Campaigns such as Warm Up New Zealand already provide home-owners with subsidies of up to 60% to make their homes more energy efficient. Phillips' research will help community organisations who provide top-up funding to households who need more than that. These top-up funding programmes tend to target specific local communities with high social deprivation and/or bad air quality.

Environment Waikato and the Waikato District Health Board are two examples of organisations that have funding programmes for energy efficient homes, and who will be able to use her  research to help justify their own funding applications. The research will also help them identify what still needs to be done to create reasonable living standards in Waikato homes, and develop strategies on how to address current and future issues.

Phillips' research consisted of surveying about 5000 residents in about 20 Waikato towns. She had targeted surveys for tenants, landlords and homeowners. “Without the Waikato Trust Grant, reaching out to people in the wider Waikato area would not have been possible,” says Phillips.

After identifying about 60,000 homes in the Waikato that are not properly insulated, Phillips hopes her research will also provide justification for incentives or minimum regulations for the insulation of rental properties by landlords.

“There are largely differing perceptions between landlords and tenants when it comes to how warm or energy efficient they perceive their home to be, with landlords over-estimating the warmth and insulation of their rental properties,” says Phillips. “Also concerning is the information barrier for tenants, as they cannot ‘see’ the actual insulation when looking at a rental property.”

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