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New Healthy homes standards come into effect on the 1st July 2021. They’re designed to improve the quality of rental homes, making them healthier, safer, and warmer.  Mitre 10 has a range of effective heating solutions that will help you comply with the healthy homes standards.

Why heating is important for a healthy home

Guidelines from the World Health Organisation recommend a minimum temperature of 18˚C in houses, though this should be higher for vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly. With this in mind it's important to choose the right heating for your living spaces and consider the ongoing costs and environmental impact of the options available to you.

Types of heating

For larger rooms that you want to heat regularly, like a living room, it’s worth paying a bit more upfront for a fixed heating system (i.e. fixed heaters, fireplaces and heat pumps) with lower running costs and more heat output than smaller heating systems can provide. There are lots of options for heating - electric heaters, modern wood or wood-pellet burners, energy efficient heat pumps four-star qualified flued gas heaters, and much more.

kW (heating capacity required)

Before you purchase a heater, heat pump, or wood burner, it's important to know how much power is required to heat your home. Most indoor heating solutions will state how many kW of heat they deliver. Tenancy Services has a Heating Assessment Tool you can use to determine how much power is needed to heat the different spaces in your home. Make sure you have a tape measure handy before you start. For electric heaters and heat pumps, the heating capacity is also an indication of how much the unit will cost to run. The ECCA states that running costs can be calculated using an estimated electricity price of $0.25/kWh.

Fixed Heaters

Your heater must be fixed (not portable), and at least 1.5 kW in heating capacity.

You can’t use an electric heater (except a heat pump) if the required heating capacity for the main living room is over 2.4 kW, unless you’re ‘topping up’ existing qualifying heating that was installed before 1 July 2019.

Heat pumps

  • All heat pumps must have a thermostat.
  • Heat pumps come in a in variety of styles and capabilities.  It’s important before you purchase you choose the right one.
  • To determine the size and output capacity of your heat pump, follow the formula below:
    • Older house (partly insulated): .065 (kW) x Length (m) x Width (m) x Height (m) of room
    • Newer house (insulated): .059 (kW) x Length (m) x Width (m) x Height (m) of room 

In our experience, ceiling height is a factor many people overlook. If you’re stuck, it may be helpful to know that a typical New Zealand home has a ceiling height of 2.4 metres.

While we usually think about heating for heat pumps, you’ll also need to consider their usage during the warmer months, when cooling is required.  It’s recommended to add 10% to your kW calculations for rooms that are exposed to significant or direct sunlight or on second and third levels of a house.


The heating surface area indicates the number of square metres that a fire can heat. However, the height of the ceilings, the number of floors, the installation of a heat transfer system and quality of the insulation in a house can have an impact on the heating area indicated for each model.

The heating capability of a wood burner is usually advertised in kW. A ‘peak heat output’ or ‘maximum heat output’ measure is typically based on extreme performance under testing conditions. The ‘maximum average heat output’ is the average maximum performance tested against AS/NZS 4012:2014 or AS/NZS 4012:1999 and is the power output likely to be achieved at home.

“Clean Air Zone approved” / “Ultra low emission burners” 

Regions such as Christchurch, Otago, Rotorua, and Nelson have declared a ‘Smoke Control Area’ to reduce air pollution. Check your local council requirements before you purchase a fireplace. 

Clean burn technology - Clean burn is an innovation in heating appliance technology that results in a highly efficient output, less smoke, and a cleaner environment.  It works by introducing pre-heated, secondary air into the firebox to burn the excess hydrocarbons in the smoke. This provides not only a ‘cleaner burn’ (i.e. less soot particles going up the chimney/flue and into the atmosphere) but also generates twice the heat output from your fuel.

What you need to know


As a landlord you need to ensure that the main living room has a qualifying heater that can heat the living room to at least 18°C throughout the year. The heating capacity must be suitable for the size of the living room and in accordance with the Tenancy Services Heating Assessment Tool. 

Your heating must be fixed (not portable, open fire or combustion heater i.e. portable LPG bottle heaters) 

and if you use a heat pump or an electric heater, it must have a thermostat. For smaller living areas, a small fixed heater with a heating capacity of at least 1.5 kW may be sufficient. 

You can’t use an electric heater (except a heat pump) if the required heating capacity for the main living room is over 2.4 kW, unless you’re ‘topping up’ existing qualifying heating that was installed before 1 July 2019.

In most cases, the right type of heater will be a larger fixed heating device like a heat pump, wood burner, pellet burner or flued gas heater.


Did you know up to 20% of heating can be lost through draught? This means you should assess your insulation before you look at heating options. This way, you'll be able to use a smaller heating system and your home will be cheaper and easier to heat. While the Healthy Homes standard isn't legislative for homes, it's a good guide on the size of heating unit you might need. Good quality, lined curtains that fit your windows well are an essential part of a warm, energy efficient home.


While your landlord is responsible for heating, there are things you can do help keep your energy consumption down and optimise the heating in your home. Open windows and curtains on sunny days, and close them when the sun goes down to trap heat in your home. Talk to your landlord about trimming any trees that prevent sunlight entering your house.

Get started on your journey to a healthier home



More ways we can help you make your home healthier