Richard installing curtains

Damp, cold homes are unfortunately far too commonplace here in Aotearoa. Heating a home is difficult and sometimes costly for many families. Up to 38% of heat can be lost through windows. This not only contributes to a cold home but makes homes much more expensive to heat.

Since 2018, 18,400 curtains have been fitted in 1,435 homes through Habitat for Humanity’s Curtain Bank, thanks to support from Mercury and the Starship Foundation.

Meet one of Habitat for Humanity’s curtain installers and sidekicks , Richard. A skilful worker who is part of a team that helps families in need to stay warm in winter. He has been working for Habitat for over a year and has helped many families warm their homes by installing well-fitted curtains. When asked what the most rewarding part of his job is, Richard responded with: “Literally warming up houses.” He not only feels rewarded by delivering curtains to families but also by delivering winter warmer packs, which include heaters, duvets, and draught-stopping items.

When curtains get delivered and installed, Richard and the curtain installation team also perform home assessments to check the health of the homes. These reports then go to landlords to have any issues fixed as soon as possible. Always willing to get involved, connect with the community and lend a helping hand, Richard often supports families with more than curtain installation - “We often do the odd fixing up jobs as well – (today) I fixed a window because both locks were broken, so I put a new one on. It means the window isn’t ajar all day and all night. If we can do it in the timeframe we have, we always give it a go.”


Healthy Home illustration 



The effect of a comfortable night’s sleep in a warm home is life-changing for children. Richard has delivered and installed hundreds of curtains enabling hundreds of families to live in warmer and healthier homes, like Chenoa’s.

Chenoa and her family are recipients of Habitat for Humanity’s Curtain Bank service. Her two-year-old and 9-month-old suffered from terrible coughs due to damp, cold, living conditions. Their curtains, which were poor quality and mouldy, also needed replacing. “Habitat came in and helped with the curtains, which was cool because our house is really, really cold. Our landlord has only just put in the heat pump, but it does not really heat up the house properly. When we do have it on, it has to be on really high with the fan on full, which is not great for power. The house is still pretty cold, but the curtains have helped block out the breeze that comes through.”

With the help of their new fitted curtains installed in their home, it is now kept warmer and drier throughout the year and will be a healthier environment for her two young boys. “They (Chenoa’s boys) have been good and pretty much stopped coughing all together. Habitat also gave us an oil heater which is way better than the heat pump. My babies have it in their room.”

When asked what difference this support has made to her boys’ health, Chenoa responded with “It takes the worry away; I know my boys are going to be warm enough at night, and they won’t get sick as much anymore.”

Best practice curtains can reduce heat loss by up to 60% for single-glazed windows and up to 40-50% for double-glazed windows. Families have reported improvements in the health of family members, fewer days taken off school and work, and financial savings on power bills and from having to visit the doctor less often by simply installing well-fitted curtains.

Richard is a wonderful example of a Healthy Homes Hero and a true sidekick, doing good for families in Aotearoa. Alongside generous Mercury customers whose wonderful donations have helped support this important work, and the Starship Foundation, together we have helped 1,435 families benefit from Habitat for Humanity’s Curtain Bank.

You too can become a sidekick and support Mercury and the Starship Foundation to transform the lives of thousands of Kiwi through more wonderful projects just like this, by adding a monthly donation as little as $4.00 to your Mercury bill. A small donation from each of us would make a world of difference.


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The information provided in this article is of a general nature and not intended to be a substitute for personalised, professional advice. Mercury recommends that you always seek appropriate advice from a qualified professional to suit your individual circumstances. Links to external, non-Mercury websites are provided as a reference only, and do not imply a partnership or endorsement of their content.