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Healthy Homes Standard NZ: Heating

Healthy Homes Standard NZ: Heating

A three-part series, which starts in this issue, provides a guide to heating, ventilation, and moisture ingress/drainage in rental properties.

By: Joanna Mathers

10 May 2024

By July 1, 2025, all private rental properties must comply fully with the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act. The regulations came into tenancy law on July 1, 2021, with all new or renewed tenancies needing to comply with the act within 120 days of the agreement. But landlords with long-term tenants still have until July 1 next year to meet all the standards.

Unpackaging the regulations can be tricky. In this, the first in a series that helps landlords understand their obligations around Healthy Homes legislation, New Zealand Property Investor looks at heating. The heating standards are based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation that the indoor temperature within homes needs to be 18 degrees throughout the year. Many heating options won’t achieve this, and there are very specific requirements for heating covered in the act.

The heating devices in rental properties:

  • must be fixed (not portable)
  • must directly heat the main living room of the house
  • have a heating capacity of at least 1.5kw
  • if electric, must have a thermostat
  • must not be an open fire or unflued combustion heater.

Suitable heating devices include heat pumps, fixed electric heaters with a thermostat, wood burners or flued gas heaters.

The tenancy.govt.nz website provides a tool with which landlords can calculate the minimum heating capacity needed for main living rooms of rental properties.

However, this can be slightly hard to understand, and it is often best to seek help when considering your heating choices.

There are many companies that offer services around this compliance, but do your homework first, as this industry is not regulated.

Heat pumps

Heat pumps are generally a logical option for investors, and they have several advantages. Purchase and installation costs are high compared with some other forms of heating, but running costs can save users hundreds of dollars a year.

The size of the heat pump will depend on the size of the room and other factors such as window placement and sun catchment.

Heat-pump units, with a 3-6Kw capacity, are priced between $1,200-$3,700 plus installation, which can be between $800-$1000, but landlords are likely to choose the less expensive options. There are businesses and organisations that offer quotes, installation costs and advice, plus online tools to find the best deal for your property. Heat pumps are considered the best option because:

  • they are considered the most energy efficient form of electric heating
  • they are also able to cool a home during those sweltering days in summer
  • dehumidifying capacity helps remove dampness and damaging mould
  • popular with buyers if the home is sold.
  • include air filter options, particularly beneficial to those with asthma and allergies.

Other heating systems

Pellet heating is a system in which wood pellets are combusted. This is the common source of heating for central heating systems but can also be purchased and installed as a freestanding model or inserted into a fireplace.

They are more reliable in areas where heat pumps can freeze over, such as the lower South Island. The energy efficiency of pellet heating is comparable to gas.

While pellet heaters cover heating and hot water even in the coldest environments, they are expensive to purchase and install.

But in the case of a power outage, they will provide 12 hours of heat, and they can save costs of heating annually.

Panel heaters are a form of electric heating that has also become popular for rental properties.

They work quickly and reduce waiting times, which can help reduce heating costs during colder months. Most panel heaters on the market are available in watts rather than Kw, making them possibly less effective in heating large spaces.

Smaller models can be an excellent option in smaller rooms: the cost to run these heaters is between 23-31 cents per Kw.

Compare, Review

There are several sites and tools available for landlords to compare and review different heating options for their rental properties. Consumer.org.nz offers price and efficiency comparisons for all types of heating available on the general market.

There are also companies that offer obligation-free quotes and advice, and these can be found online.

Some property management businesses also offer free Healthy Homes assessments for landlords.

For more information on your obligations visit tenancy.govt.nz/healthy-homes