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13 June 2022 | Community

The Warehouse introduces free heater swap supporting Kiwis to live in warmer and healthier homes this winter

The Warehouse has launched a first-of-its-kind 'Healthy Heater Swap' as part of its annual Warmhouse campaign, which aims to educate Kiwis about creating a healthy home affordably.

The Healthy Heater Swap will be available at 30 The Warehouse stores nationwide and will accept all indoor unflued LPG gas heaters, no matter their place of purchase, to swap for a free electric option.

David Benattar, Sustainability Lead at The Warehouse Group, says finding out the damaging health impacts of indoor LPG gas heaters made The Warehouse want to help tackle the problem.

"By encouraging Kiwis to remove unflued gas heaters from their homes and offering a free swap for a more energy-efficient and healthier alternative, we're helping families to have a warmer and healthier home this winter.

"Indoor LPG gas heaters emit significant amounts of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, pollutants that can trigger asthma and other respiratory conditions. The heaters also release moisture and can be expensive to run, making them unhealthy for Kiwis and the environment. This is why experts are calling for the switch to electric heating," says Benattar.

“The dangers of indoor LPG gas heaters are relatively unknown to many people, especially the deferential effect they can have on indoor air quality,” says Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall.

“It’s great to see The Warehouse taking the proactive steps to do something about this issue. Especially in not just helping educate people around the potential harms that indoor gas heaters can cause, but also offering an exchange for a new, safer electric alternative.”

“This is a great initiative that offers a tangible solution which will help ensure kiwis keep warm, dry and more importantly healthy in their own homes this winter.”

The Healthy Heater Swap will see 1,800 11-fin electric heaters available for swapping. The Warehouse is also donating an additional 2,000 heaters to The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and Healthy Homes providers to support Kiwis who are most in need.

Nevil Pierse, Associate Professor from Otago University, says about 96,570 unflued gas heaters are in homes across Aotearoa. They have proven health impacts, including on children, who present with a range of respiratory conditions due to being exposed to gases emitted by the heaters.

"I'm delighted The Warehouse is raising awareness about the health implications associated with unflued gas heaters and providing a healthier, more sustainable alternative for families.

"Replacing unflued gas heaters with healthier electric heaters will significantly improve the health of these Kiwi kids and their whānau," says Pierse.

Customers and team members at The Warehouse Group wanting to swap their heater will need to book a time slot at one of 30 participating The Warehouse stores via The Warmhouse platform. Allocated time slots will be available to head in-store over the three weeks, with 20 swaps available per week, per store, starting from 16 June.

In parallel to The Healthy Heater Swap, The Warehouse will raise funds for The Salvation Army. Customers can choose to Add A Dollar to their in-store purchases at check out from June 13 to July 29, 2022.

Chris Limmer, Sustaining Tenancies National Lead for The Salvation Army, says the provision of heaters and funds raised through Add A Dollar in The Warehouse stores will make a huge difference to the whānau it works with.

"Most of the people we work with are at risk of losing their tenancy which is often related to debt, high rent or increased living costs. For these families, keeping a warm and healthy home can be put down the priority list when compared to keeping their home or providing food. This initiative will help to relieve some of this pressure. In addition, 79% of our Sustaining Tenancies clients are parents with children so this will also have a direct impact on children's wellbeing."

New research commissioned by the Warehouse shows that 61% of Kiwis are living with poor heating and insultation, mold and damp, and young people and renters are disproportionately affected by unhealthy housing.

Nik Gregg co-founder of Sustainability Options, an organisation that works with the Ministry of Health's 'Healthy Homes Initiative,' says housing and living conditions are significant determinants of health with numerous bodies of research highlighting the association between the two.

"Cold temperatures and damp conditions have a direct impact on both respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. For those who are elderly, very young, unwell or in vulnerable health, to not only be comfortable over the winter months, but to avoid time in hospital, a warm and dry home is critical."

Additionally, The Warehouse has developed an online content portal called The Warmhouse, to educate Kiwis on affordable and more ways to make their homes healthier. The hub features information and advice sourced from Gen Less, an Energy, Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA) initiative, as well as a series of animated videos to bring problems and solutions to life.

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