Recent winters have been wet and stormy for New Zealand, with both El Niño and La Niña and severe wind gusts hitting us. There’s no denying that New Zealanders are a tough bunch, however with most homes made of timber framing, the poor insulation in the cold winter months can result in being struck down by the cold and flu. So what’s the best way to keep your home and family warm? We’ve put together some suggestions.
Everyday solutions for keeping warm
It’s a good idea to check around for draught prone areas in your home before the winter chills start creeping in. Start with windows, doors and any open spaces such as unused chimneys. Put up thick curtains and make ‘snake’ stoppers by stuffing old rugby socks with cushion filling to place around doors.
When heating your home, make sure you close off doors to unused rooms. By not heating the whole house, the heat stays within one area and saves you money. Try and keep the temperature in the room you are heating at 18-21 degrees, especially if you have babies or elderly people living with you. Remember on those sunny days, open windows and curtains to let the natural heat come in, and close them when the sun goes down to trap heat in.
Heating options for your home
Depending on your budget and long term plans for insulation, there are a few options to consider when heating your home:
- Wood burners
Wood burners use dry firewood which is a carbon-neutral, renewable resource. They work well in heating older homes with high ceilings (such as villas) and best of all they don’t rely on power to run. If properly positioned and installed they can heat the whole home
- Heat pumps
Heat pumps, such as air conditioners, are also an efficient way of heating a home. Although they use electricity, they are the most effective – producing up to five times as much heat as an electric heater for each unit of electricity. Most well-known brands have an energy star rating for efficiency and are remote controlled and come with timers. If you’re a smartphone user, some models even have the capability of downloading an app, which allows you to turn the heat pump on in time to come home
- Central heating
A long-term approach is to look into installing a central heating system. Not widely used in New Zealand homes compared to Europe, however if you’re in a home that is well insulated and your budget allows for it, central heating can be a practical solution for the whole house. Make sure you do a lot of research prior to installation, as financially central heating is a big investment.
Wrapping up and staying warm during the winter months will keep unwanted winter chills away. Remember to integrate heating with keeping your home dry.
For helpful tips around dampness protection read ‘How to protect your home from dampness’.