Budget 2023: LED expansion not the lightbulb moment needed to tackle New Zealand’s cold, inefficient housing

17 May 2023

Budget 2023 provides a $400 million boost for the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme – extending insulation and heating improvements for four years and expanding it to cover things like energy efficient hot water heaters and LEDs.

“Investing in our homes helps alleviate the prevalence of respiratory illness in our children, helps whānau live comfortably and productively, while cutting energy costs during a cost-of-living crisis, and pollution during a climate crisis. It’s a no brainer, “says Green Building Council chief executive Andrew Eagles.

“Continuing and expanding this programme is great news for thousands of New Zealanders living in cold unhealthy homes. We’ve long called for an expansion to what the programme offers, so it’s great to see the addition of basic measures like LEDs and hot-water heat pumps.”

The funding boost is an encouraging sign that New Zealand is finally starting to prioritise our cold, inefficient homes. It is vital investment in our people and our future. However, we’re yet to see the level of ambition needed.

“The Warmer Kiwi Homes remains a very minor step forward when we should be rapidly making major improvements to New Zealand homes.”

Increasingly Governments around the world such as Ireland, France, Canada, and the USA, are investing billions in deep home retrofit programmes as a way of improving social outcomes, decreasing energy use, and slashing carbon emissions.

“Spending $100 million a year on these basic home improvements is a drop in the bucket when we consider the rapid deep retrofits required for us to meet our climate targets. We should be spending $1 billion a year on this.”

A recent report from BERL found international retrofit programmes are slashing energy use with examples like France seeing reductions as high as 40%.

“We need to be ensuring everyone has at least double glazing. We should be removing gas lines from our homes. We should be installing better wall insulation and efficient ventilation. Basic things that our sector failed to deliver when these homes were built, need to be added in over the next decade.”

“We already live in a country where peak winter energy use forces us to burn coal at Huntly Power station, and our electricity providers have to issue usage warnings.

“Our future will demand homes that perform well. By delaying deep improvements now, we risk having to revisit these homes again in future for a second round of improvements.”

Over 150 leading organisations have joined The Homes We Deserve campaign calling for political parties to commit to an ambitious deep retrofit programme for at least 200,000 homes if elected later this year. A recent poll found a third of voters would consider shifting their vote for a party who promised to tackle the sorry state of our existing homes.

“There’s huge appetite for tackling our woeful housing in New Zealand, and the longer we delay, the more expensive this vital programme of work is going to get. “

Read Andrew Eagles's full budget summary