The Housing Heating and Health Study(PDF 1MB) was carried out by a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the Universities of Otago, Massey, Victoria and Auckland and BRANZ. The study used a randomised controlled clustered experimental design.

Data collection took place over the winters of 2005 and 2006, to examine the effects of temperature and indoor pollutants on children’s health.

Over the autumn of 2005, 412 households with asthmatic children were recruited. As the Housing, Insulation and Health Study demonstrated health benefits to people living in insulated houses, all the houses in the Housing, Heating and Health study were insulated during that autumn before the winter when data collection for the study commenced. The asthmatic children and other household members recorded their respiratory symptoms over the winter of 2005, and at the end of the winter they filled in health questionnaires. Air quality temperatures and conditions in the house were also monitored. The households were then randomly allocated to the intervention or control groups. The intervention group received a new heater (either a heat pump, a wood pellet burner or a flued gas heater) in May-June 2006. During the 2006 winter the same measurements taken in 2005 were repeated as well as some additional information on outdoor air quality. All measurements and questionnaires have now been collected and the control group received new heaters early in 2007.

In a preliminary heating study a medical student, Sarah Dunn, interviewed people in Masterton to find out what affected their choice of heating. The questions were designed to be open ended to elicit a wide-range of responses. Census data showed a high rate of the use of bottled gas and wood as fuels in Masterton, so in addition to asking about the kinds of fuel actually used in each home there were also questions on these two types of heating and the perceived advantages and disadvantages of each of them. Sarah’s report, Qualitative Study of Home Heating Choices in Masterton, as well as the Housing and Health Research Programmes Housing, Insulation and Health Study has lead to the Housing, Heating and Health Study.

Preliminary results of the research are now available and the main results have been published in the British Medical Journal.

Questionnaires and Diaries used in the study are available now:

We are especially grateful to all our funders: Health Research Council of New Zealand, Contact Energy, Ministry for the Environment, Hutt Valley DHB, EECA, Housing New Zealand Corporation, Capital and Coast District Health Board, LPG Association, Otago University, Massey University, Building Research.

Many thanks to all the children and their families/whānau who agreed to take part in the study and generously gave us their time. We are also very grateful to the community coordinators, interviewers, general practitioners, energy companies, retrofitters and heater suppliers. For a full list of our collaborators you can read our thank you list.

Two interim reports are also available:

Theses written about the study include