Partnering for a Healthier Community

Editor’s note: This is today’s column published in the Wanganui Chronicle, serving as one last invitation to community partners, and promoting our first 4 neighbourhood events. 
Project HEAT
After spending the evening at a friend’s home recently, I found my arms covered with goose bumps after a short walk to the car. It was a starry night with a crescent moon, and the temperature was dropping toward the single digits. More than a month after the summer solstice, we find ourselves sliding into autumn.
Earlier in the evening, I met a couple that told me they greatly appreciated the advice from this column last winter on ‘window blankets’. They told me that they tried them out and noticed positive results immediately. They felt their home was dramatically warmer, and that their childrens’ health had benefited from this eco-thrifty approach to slowing heat loss through windows.
That same evening, our hosts – a young couple with a 4-month old baby – mentioned that they had installed polythene sheets under their home and had noticed a major difference in terms of the rising damp.

Indoor (above) and Outdoor (below) temperatures in Celsius. 

Both of these are examples of the low cost / high performance strategies that home owners or renters or landlords can take to improve the energy efficiency and health of their dwellings.
Regular readers of this column will notice that I have not written about these types of things for the last four months. The obvious explanation can be summed up as: who wants to read about how to keep their home warm and dry during the summer?
This is not to say, however, that I am now proclaiming an end to summer, or that I intend to start writing about improving thermal comfort again this month. What it does mean is that I am inviting community groups and local businesses to become partners in Project HEAT: Home Energy Awareness Training.
Project HEAT helps renters and owners alike to make their homes warmer, dryer, healthier and less draughty in three ways: 1) presentations in every suburb explaining easy, low-cost ways to save energy at home; 2) home energy audits; 3) instructional DIY workshops that teach how to make and install low-cost energy-saving devices. The presentations and audits will be provided free thanks to the generous support of our financial backers. There will be a small fee for the DIY workshops.

Items donated by Bunnings. 
Although the project formally kicks off in March, I wanted to make one last offer to potential partners. At the moment, we have many different types of partners.
Our funding partners are Tree Life NZ Ltd. and an anonymous donor.
Our venue partners are the Josephite Retreat Centre, Wai Ora Christian Trust, Gonville Community Centre, and Progress Castlecliff.
Our in-kind partners are the Sustainable Whanganui Trust, Bunnings Hardware, the Sisters of Saint Joseph, the Wanganui Chronicle, Mediaworks, and the Wanganui Regional Primary Health Organisation.
Our educational partner is Community Education Services.
Presently we have funding for 10 neighbourhood presentations and 83 home energy audits. Our goal is to be able to provide 100 free home energy audits to low-income families and pensioners.
We have community presentations scheduled for Saint John’s Hill (4th, March), Aramoho (7th, March), Gonville (18th, March), and Castlecliff (19th, March). This leaves us six suburbs short of our plan to serve every neighbourhood in our city. If you don’t see your suburb on this list, please alert your church, sports club, or local hall, and have them contact me as soon as possible.
Together we can make a stronger, healthier and wealthier community. Join us.
Peace, Estwing

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