Home heating

This section presents additional information about the indoor environment, specifically about New Zealand households with no source of heating. 

Houses with no source of heating are likely to be cold and below recommended temperatures. They may also be more likely to be damp and mouldy. Regional climate differences across New Zealand may also influence home heating patterns. Cold homes can cause respiratory problems and other serious health problems [1]. Indoor temperatures below 16°C increase the risk of respiratory infections, and below 12°C stress the cardiovascular system [1]. 

More homes without a heating source

In 2013, 44,800 households did not have a source of home heating, which is 3.0% of households. This percentage had increased from 2.4% (33,200 homes) in 2006.

Houses in northern New Zealand were more likely to have no source of home heating. Northland, Hamilton and some parts of Auckland had higher proportions of homes without a heating source. 

Drop in use of bottled gas, wood and coal fires

Some forms of home heating can also affect our indoor and outdoor environment. 

The use of bottled gas decreased from 26% of homes in 2006, to 15% in 2013.  In some homes, bottled gas is used with unflued gas heaters. These heaters release carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and water vapour [2].

The use of wood and coal fires dropped steadily from 1996 to 2013. While providing home heating, these fires can contribute to outdoor air pollution. For more about wood and coal fires and their contribution to air pollution, go to the wood and coals fires webpage

Figure 2: Percentage of households using different fuel sources for home heating (%), 1996-2013

Poor quality housing and health

Cold, damp and mouldy houses impact on our health and our children's health. Cold homes have been linked to cardiovascular disease and respiratory health [1].  

Indoor dampness and mould can lead to asthma exacerbation in children [1], and is also associated with an increased risk of respiratory tract infections and bronchitis [3].  

You can read more about the following health conditions:
lower respiratory tract infections.

Information about this data

Fuel types used to heat dwellings

Source: Census (1996, 2001, 2006, 2013), Statistics New Zealand

Definition: The household form of the Census asked about fuel types used to heat dwellings. The data only refer to private occupied dwellings. The outputs available from Statistics New Zealand were:

  • Electricity
  • Mains gas
  • Bottled gas
  • Wood
  • Coal
  • Solar power
  • No fuels used in this dwelling
  • Other fuel(s)
  • Response unidentifiable
  • Not stated.

Multiple responses were possible, and households were included with every fuel type they identified.  Therefore the total number of responses will be greater than the total number of private occupied dwellings.  


1.  Braubach M, Jacobs DE, Ormandy D (Eds.). 2011. Environmental burden of disease associated with inadequate housing: A method guide to the quantification of health effects of selected housing risks in the WHO European Region. Copenhagen, Denmark: WHO Regional Office for Europe. Available online: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/Housing-and-health/publications/2011/environmental-burden-of-disease-associated-with-inadequate-housing.-a-method-guide-to-the-quantification-of-health-effects-of-selected-housing-risks-in-the-who-european-region

2. Howden-Chapman, P., Pierse, N., Nicholls, S., Gillespie-Bennett, J., Viggers, H., Cunningham, M., et al. (2008). Effects of improved home heating on asthma in community dwelling children: randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal 337: a1411. doi: 10.1136/bmj.a1411

3. Fisk W, Eliseeva E, Mendell M. 2010. Association of residential dampness and mold with respiratory tract infections and bronchitis: a meta-analysis. Environmental Health 9(1): 72. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-9-72

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