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Healthy Homes Standards - Heating standard

17 October 2020

Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

There must be at least one fixed heater that meets a required heating capacity that can directly heat the main living room to at least 18°C. Specific heating devices that are inefficient, unaffordable or unhealthy will not meet the requirements of this standard.

What is the main living room?

The main living room is the largest room in the house used for general, everyday living, typically a lounge or a family room.

Open plan areas are considered one space. So make sure you include any connected spaces that can't be closed off (e.g. open plan kitchen or hallway). Spaces will be considered connected if there is no solid barrier between them.

What is the required heating capacity for a living room? And how to calculate it?

The required heating capacity for a living room can be calculated by using the formula outlined in Schedule 2 of the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulation 2019 or by using a Heating Assessment Tool. The later is much more user-friendly.

The Heating Assessment Tool will require some figures and measurements of the room (for example, the room dimensions, measurements of windows, and information about current levels of insulation). It will help you calculate the minimum heating capacity required for your property, tell you if your property meets the heating standard or if you need to install new heaters.

If you have a complex room layout, or you're not sure what figures to include, we recommend asking a professional for advice.

The results from the online heating assessment tool should be saved and kept for your records.

What are the acceptable types of heaters?

Acceptable heating devices under the heating standard are efficient, healthy and affordable to run. In most cases, they will be heat pumps, wood burners, pellet burners and flued gas heaters.

In special cases (e.g. small apartments with required living room's heating capacity of 2.4kW or less), a smaller fixed electric heater with the thermostat may be enough (as long as it's fixed to the home and has a heating capacity of at least 1.5 kW)

Central heating will also meet the standard as long as it meets heating capacity and provides heat directly to the living room (through vents, ducts and radiators)

The heater needs to be fixed to the home. A fixed heater must be secured to the property (not portable) but does not need to be hardwired into the home (plug-in heaters can be used if secured)

The heater needs to meet minimum heating capacity. The heating capacity of a heater is a measure of its heating output and is usually expressed in kilowatts (kW). The heating capacity can generally be found on the device, manual or looked up online by searching the heater brand and model.

The qualified heater must be at least 1.5 kW in heating capacity and meet the minimum heating capacity needed for the main living room.

What types of heaters are not acceptable?

There is a list of devices that cannot be used to meet the standard:

  • Open fires
  • Unflued combustion heaters (e.g. portable LPG bottle heaters)
  • Heat pumps or electric heaters without a thermostat
  • Heating devices that are less than 1.5 kW
  • Electric heaters (except heat pumps) where the required heating capacity is more than 2.4 kilowatts
  • Some woodburners

To find out a heating capacity of a woodburner, check the label, manufacturer's info or council records. List of acceptable woodburners can be found here

Congratulations, your existing heater meets the standard if...

  • It was installed before 1 July 2019
  • It meets necessary requirements in the standards (i.e. acceptable type, fixed to the home)
  • Located in the living room or provides heat directly to the living room
  • It has a heating capacity of at least 2.4kW
  • If the room's required heating capacity is over 2.4kW, not an electric heater (heat pumps acceptable)
  • Have a total heating capacity that is at least 90% of what you need to meet the required heating capacity

The existing heating does not meet the standard and "top-up" is required when…

  • Existing heating was installed before 1 July 2019
  • Required heating capacity is more than 2.4 kW
  • The top-up needed is 1.5kW or less

In this situation, a smaller fixed electric heater (with thermostat) can be used to "top-up" heating.

The property has no existing heaters in good working order or at all

If the property has no heating or the heating device needs to be replaced, then the new device must meet all the requirements of the heating standard.

You can still use heaters that don't meet these requirements. But they can't contribute to the heating capacity you need to meet the healthy homes standards. They don't need to be removed.

The legislation allows landlords to carry out work themselves. But some types of heated require a licensed electrician (heat pumps) or a registered gas fitter (flued gas heating) for installation.

Exemption to the heating standard

There are 3 exemptions to the heating standard:

1. It is not reasonably practicable to install one or more qualifying heaters.

It is not reasonably practicable to install the heating device if a professional installer can't access the area without:
- substantial building work (e.g. replacing the walls)
- causing significant damage (e.g. would need to tear out the chimney)
- creating health and safety risk (e.g. the house has asbestos)
- otherwise not reasonably practicable to carry out work)

2. A 10% tolerance allowance for existing heaters.

There is a tolerance allowance for existing heaters. If a landlord has installed a heating device before 1 July 2019 and the heating output is within 10% of the kilowatts required to heat the main living room, that heating device will meet the standard. No "top-up" will be required.

The tolerance for existing heating doesn't apply if the heating device needs to be replaced, then the new device must meet all the requirements of the heating standard.

3. A passive building exemption

A passive building is an airtight, well-insulated, low-energy-consumption building that incorporates passive features such as orientation to the sun, building design and solar shading to create homes that are warm, dry, airtight and well ventilated. Because of their design, passive homes require less heating and cooling—making them extremely energy efficient.

The first certified Passive House home in New Zealand was completed in Auckland in 2012. There are not many houses in the country that will have Certified Passive House Building or EnerPHit Retrofits certifications to qualify for this exemption.

Following the feedback from the rental industry, the Government has announced changes to the Heating standard. Learn more about this here. The heating formula will be amended to allow smaller heating devices to be installed in new homes. (New rules are expected to come into force in April 2022)

The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice, you should seek independent legal counsel. does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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