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Regional Council urges Rotorua residents to prepare for winter

Wednesday, 3 April 2013 4:00 p.m.

Using clean-burning wood burners and dry firewood will ensure Rotorua’s air will be cleaner this coming winter.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is reminding Rotorua residents to get ready for winter by getting their firewood early to ensure it is dry enough, and making the most of assistance to upgrade their wood burners using the Hot Swap scheme.

Rotorua homeowners need to upgrade more than 7,600 old wood burners and open fires to meet the Ministry for the Environment’s National Air Quality Standards. To help with the cost, the Regional Council offers the Hot Swap loan – an interest-free loan paid off over 10 years to upgrade old wood burners and open fires to clean heat.

Regional Council General Manager Strategy Fiona McTavish said burning dry, seasoned wood meant warmer homes and less air pollution.

"Households that plan ahead and only use dry wood will benefit by being warmer, as dry wood burns hotter and provides more heat for your home,” she said.

“Rotorua has poor air quality, particularly in winter, when people use their old wood burners and open fires. Everyone in Rotorua can help improve air quality by using clean heat options and only burning dry wood,” she said.

Pollution caused by burning wet wood in older fires can cause adverse health effects, especially for the elderly, the very young and those who already have respiratory problems, such as asthma, Ms McTavish said.

“Just over 1,000 homeowners have used the Hot Swap loan to upgrade to clean heat, but we still have a lot of homes to go,” Ms McTavish said.

Additional financial help is available for low income households. Any ratepayer who qualified for Central Government's rates rebate, a rates subsidy for low-income homeowners, can have their annual Hot Swap loan repayment waived for each year that they are eligible for the rates rebate. The payment is waived the year after the application is made.

"This means that groups in our community such as pensioners could have a clean heat upgrade that is fully funded over the 10 years," Ms McTavish said.

“All homeowners and landlords who have an older wood burner or open fire should contact a Hot Swap service provider and get a free heating assessment and quote,” Ms McTavish said.

To contact Hot Swap service providers, call 0800 468 792 or visit www.hotswap.co.nz

 

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