Air Domain Report - Households burning wood or coal for home heating 1996-2013

Ministry for the Environment


Note: Totals might not sum due to rounding.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

From 2014 Air domain report for the Ministry for the Environment by Statistics New Zealand

Case study: Number of households that burn wood or coal for home heating

Related topic: Home-heating emissions (pressure)

Case study definition: This case study presents the number of households that burn solid fuel (wood or coal) for home heating. Tracking these values over time illustrates whether, at a national level, a key component of home heating emissions is increasing or decreasing.

This is based on information from the national census that determines the fuel type used to heat occupied private dwellings. More than one fuel type may be used, for example, electricity, gas, coal, and wood.

Background: Home heating emissions have been identified as a key source of air pollution, like particulate matter (Kuschel et al, 2012). The number of homes burning solid fuel is a key component for calculating home heating emissions, along with emissions factors (which account for appliance efficiency) and quantity of fuel burnt.
Presentation of case study components Total number of homes burning solid fuel and by type of solid fuel:

Methodology: The number of households that burn solid fuel for home heating is determined from the census.

The census asks each household to say which heat sources are used to heat this dwelling. The two options, which emit outdoor air pollutants of concern, are wood and coal. The number of households that say they burn either wood or coal, either as the only heating source or in combination with any heating source, are reported as the number of households that burn solid fuel for home heating.

Data coverage: National (1996, 2001, 2006, 2013)

Data source when possible: Census (1996–2013) – Statistics NZ customised request.
More information on the fuel types used to heat dwelling variable is available from Statistics New Zealand [Statistics New Zealand website].

Limitations to data and analysis, including level of confidence: The fuel type by dwelling variable has been given a quality rating of ‘high’ by Statistics NZ and is fit for use with only minor quality issues.

The type of fuel used by non-respondents is unknown. In each census, a number of households (approximately 5.5 percent of total households in 2013) did not respond to this question. Of these households, we assume that the proportion burning solid fuel for home heating is the same as the dwellings that responded.

There are other factors that influence how burning solid fuel for home heating affects air quality. This includes the quantity of solid fuel burnt and the efficiency of the appliance being used to burn the fuel. These factors are known for some urban areas, but are not currently known at a national level. This is an improvement that will be considered for future reporting.

Changes to time series: The same question was asked in censuses in 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2013.

There was a two-year delay for the last census following the Canterbury earthquakes. This means absolute changes between earlier adjacent censuses (eg 2001–2006) cannot be directly compared with the change from 2006–2013.


Detailed definitions can be found here:

Data provided by

Ministry for the Environment

Dataset name

Environmental Reporting: Air Domain Report 2014


How to find the data

At URL provided, download 'Excel files'

Import & extraction details

File as imported: Environmental Reporting: Air Domain Report 2014

From the dataset Environmental Reporting: Air Domain Report 2014, this data was extracted:

  • Sheet: Table 17
  • Range: C10:F12
  • Provided: 12 data points

Dataset originally released on:

May 16, 2014

Purpose of collection

The Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand commissioned NIWA to produce a report that provides information for New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting Series: 2014 Air domain report. This report provides the methodology and results for the national air domain indicators – on-road vehicle emissions, annual average PM10, and health impacts due to exposure to PM10. It also includes information on natural sources of pollutants, and the influence of meteorological conditions on air quality.