New Zealand is wrapping up a program designed to insulate tens of thousands of homes in public housing, the country’s government says.

Visiting one of the last homes to be insulated under the state’s nation-wide insulation program, Housing Minister Dr. Nick Smith says living conditions in 46,000 state houses have been improved since the program’s inception in 2009.

Smith says the program had been a priority not only because of a desire to reduce energy costs in public housing but also because of its impact upon tenant and public health.

“This three bedroom house for a family in Flat Bush in Manukau is one of the last to be made warmer and drier through Housing New Zealand’s programme to insulate every state house capable of being insulated by the end of this year,” he says. “Work carried out under the insulation programme includes installing ceiling and underfloor insulation, hot water cylinder wraps, and pipe lagging and stays for windows to ensure properties are adequately ventilated. Housing New Zealand is also installing clean heating solutions to homes as part of a separate programme.”

Smith acknowledges it was not possible to insulate some multi-storey apartments or houses with flat roofs, concrete floors, limited access between the ground and the floor.

He adds, however, that in these cases, Housing New Zealand ensures adequate heating options such as solid wood burners, convection heaters, heat pumps, radiant heaters or reticulated gas heaters.

Smith says the program, which cost $NZ76 million, is now 99 per cent complete and Housing New Zealand would spend the remainder of the year completing assessments to make sure no properties had been missed.

All told, around 700,000 private and public homes have inadequate ceiling or underfloor insulation, according to the country’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

Outside of public housing, a separate Warm Up New Zealand program allows private owners of homes built before 2000 to re-claim 33 per cent of the cost up to $1,300 toward the cost of ceiling and under floor insulation.