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Published: 2012-05-01 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council is urging Te Kuiti and Taupo homeowners who think they qualify for a free heating upgrade to contact Energy Options as soon as possible.

Eligible homeowners can arrange an assessment by phoning Energy Options on 0800 15 15 65 by Friday 18 May. The council has contracted them to install the upgrades by 30 June 2012.

To be considered, homeowners need to have a community services card and must own an adequately insulated home, heated by an older-style woodburner or fireplace, in the Te Kuiti or Taupo airsheds.

Qualifying homeowners will be offered free clean heat appliances, including complying woodburners, pellet fires and heat pumps, to replace their less efficient, more polluting older-style woodburners and open fires.

The scheme, known as the Waikato Clean Heat Retrofit Programme, is jointly funded by the Waikato Regional Council and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. It aims to improve air quality in the towns particularly over the winter months, when there can be an excessive amount of harmful fine particles, known as PM10.

PM10 comes mainly from wood burnt for home heating in older, woodburners and open fires. PM10 is small enough to get into people’s lungs and cause serious health problems.

Waikato Regional Council policy advisor Amanda Banks said: “Clean heat appliances improve the air and can keep people warmer and healthier while saving them money.

“We recognise that low-income households can have difficulty raising the funds to change heating systems, and this is a practical way of supporting that change.”