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Published: 2010-01-22 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is pitching in $400,000 over the next 18 months to help stop health-threatening air pollution in Taupo, Tokoroa and Te Kuiti during winter.

Eligible homeowners in the three Waikato towns will be offered free clean heat appliances to replace their older, less efficient, more polluting forms of heating, such as older-style wood fires.

The move is designed to improve air quality in these towns, which can suffer from an excessive amount of air borne fine particles, known as PM10.

PM10 is carried in smoke from wood burning fires and is also emitted when wet wood is burned in more modern fireplaces. It is not visible to the human eye and is small enough to get into people’s lungs and cause serious health problems.

EW’s contribution of $400,000 to the scheme means a similar commitment by the Government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

The council has contracted Energy Options to run the scheme, known as the Waikato Clean Heat Programme, over the next 18 months.

EW programme manager water, air and waste Dominique Noiton said: “The towns with the worst air quality in the region are being targeted.

“Eligible homeowners will receive new clean heating appliances, such as complying woodburners and heat pumps, that emit little or no PM10 into the air.

“Clean heat appliances are not only better for the air. They are more efficient at keeping homes warmer and can save householders money.

“The scheme is aimed primarily at low-income households as they are the ones who can have difficulty raising the funds to change heating systems.”

Enquiries on the Waikato Clean Heat Programme can be directed to Energy Options on 0800 15 15 65.