Researcher out to stop the draughts

University of Otago researcher Lara Rangiwhetu at a Wellington City Council housing complex....
University of Otago researcher Lara Rangiwhetu at a Wellington City Council housing complex. Photo: Supplied
Small improvements which eliminate draughts in new social housing can make the rooms warmer and make a big difference for residents.

Lead researcher Lara Rangiwhetu, from the department of public health at the University of Otago's Wellington campus, made that point in a recent research paper.

The paper, titled ``Effects of minor household interventions to block draughts on social housing temperatures: A before and after study'', was published recently in Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online.

The researchers were surprised at how much the indoor temperature could be increased - by an average of 1.36degC - by eliminating draughts through simple measures such as sealing strips on doors, and baffles in range hoods, she said.

The research was commissioned by the Wellington City Council in response to tenants' concerns about draughts in newly constructed council buildings in Miramar.

The council approached the university's He Kainga Oranga Healthy Housing team to examine the temperatures and relative humidity of the housing.

The new study showed that even in new builds, ``draughts can lower temperatures to unhealthy levels'', she said.

This was of ``particular concern'' given that Statistics New Zealand had shown that 29% of New Zealand households experienced some form of energy hardship and New Zealand continued to have high rates of ``excess winter mortality and morbidity'', she said.

The research again highlighted that it was ``good to get tenants' feedback'' on potential further improvements.

Eliminating draughts by simple measures was a ``very worthwhile step'' to improve housing warmth, she said.

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