October 10, 2018

How might the advice to landlords and homeowners be improved regarding retrofitting insulation?

A large proportion of New Zealand homes require insulation to enable them to be warmer, drier and healthier.

There is a range of people in the market who provide information and advice to consumers about insulation.  These people are driven to provide advice by a range of motivations - from those who are selling products through to those who are providing impartial advice on insulation and whole of house solutions.

This multi-method, qualitative research sought to understand what factors homeowners and landlords (as consumers) need to know and take into account before they decide how they will improve the warmth and dryness of their residential properties. It also looked at the type and quality of information and advice provided to them.

The research found the key driver of consumer choices is the cost of the insulation, i.e. its price weighed up against affordability and the benefits expected while they live in or rent their property. However, this was not the main focus for those providing information and advice which was on compliance, product information and benefits.

There is no career or qualifications pathway for those working solely in the insulation field and this may contribute to advisers not being fully equipped to provide information and advice to consumers.

Apart from Home Performance and Eco Design Advisers, the training provided to those in the insulation industry is seemingly minimal and reliant on individuals reading about products and standards, yet the knowledge required to inform consumers about the best solutions to bring about a warm, dry, healthy home is reasonably expansive and technical.

The policies that determine the "minimum" standards for insulation drive adviser and consumer behaviour yet these can be complicated and inconsistent. There is an opportunity to improve the current insulation environment through policy change in relation to insulation standards, training and qualifications for advisers, and standardised information for consumers.

This research was a partnership between Heathrose and BERL, and was funded by the Building Research Levy.

A copy of the research report is available here.