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Peter and Alison Appleby were unable to access any subsidies for insulation because they have a skillion roof, which must be removed to fit insulation.
They could not afford to do the work themselves, and with only a night store and column heaters for heating in their home, their electricity bills were creeping up to $65 a week, which was unsustainable, Mr Appleby, a sickness beneficiary, said.
He hoped to see that bill reduce immediately after friends, family, and an initiative called Dunedin Cosy Homes conducted a ''Cosy Homes flash mob'' on their home last weekend. By 10am, the roofing iron was off, by 11am the insulation was laid, and by evening the roof was back in place.
Scott Willis, of the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust, which was part of the Cosy Homes initiative, said the latter was formed late last year.
The group was concerned that cold homes were a drain on Dunedin's economy and health and social services, and aimed to achieve a vision of every home in Dunedin being made warm and cosy by 2025.
Dealing with the practical challenges of getting to people in need was one of the challenges the group had identified, and the Applebys had come to their attention, Mr Willis said.
The initiative involved community groups, non-government social services, local and central government authorities and commercial services and suppliers all talking to each other, which meant, among other benefits, that it was more possible to target those in need.
For the Applebys, the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust had worked with Habitat for Humanity, which had lent a hand and a loan to get into and replace the skillion roof, and insulation provider Smart Energy Solutions, which installed the insulation for free once the roof was removed and rot repaired.
Although Dunedin Cosy Homes had no formal governance structure in place yet, the fact the groups were talking had meant ''guerrilla actions'' like the insulation of the Appleby home were already possible.
One household out of fuel poverty - the need to spend more than 10% of annual household income on fuel use - was a good start, Mr Willis said, but the Cosy Homes vision would transform the whole city.
Mr and Mrs Appleby said they were very thankful and grateful.
''We couldn't even have afforded the building paper, let alone the nails and screws. We wouldn't be getting this any other way. It's going to be fantastic,'' Mr Appleby said.