How to Keep Your Home Warm and Dry This Winter

How to Keep Your Home Warm and Dry This Winter

Making sure that your home is warm and dry is the best way to keep your family healthy all winter long. But what are the most cost-effective things you can do and is there any financial help available from councils or the government?

Find out if your home is insulated - and have insulation installed if it isn’t already.

Insulation is one of the best ways to keep your home warm. If your home isn’t insulated, you might qualify for a grant to help with the costs of having insulation installed.

There are two government initiatives offering grants to help with the cost of insulation:

  • Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes - which comes to an end on 30 June 2018
  • Warmer Kiwi Homes, which starts on 1 July 2018

You might qualify for a grant under Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes if:

  • your home, or the home that you rent, was built before 2000, and
  • you have a Community Services Card, and
  • you have children under 17 or people over 65 living with you, or
  • you have health issues related to cold, damp housing

These grants will pay for 50% of the cost of having ceiling and underfloor insulation installed.

The Warmer Kiwi Homes initiative offers more generous grants, paying two-thirds of the cost of ceiling and underfloor insulation. However, these grants are only available to homeowners on a low income.

To meet the definition of being on a low income, you must:

  • have a Community Services Card, OR
  • live in a New Zealand Deprivation Index decile 9 or 10 area, OR
  • be referred to the scheme through the Ministry of Health’s Healthy Homes Initiative

You can find out more about both schemes on the EECA Energy Website.

Some local councils also have programmes that could help you get free or subsidised insulation. Contact your local council to find out what is on offer in your area.

If you do have to pay for your own insulation, this is still a worthwhile investment that will pay for itself in a couple of years in reduced heating costs. The top priority for insulation should be ceiling insulation, followed by underfloor insulation.

As well as insulating, there are lots of small actions you can take that add up to a warmer, dryer home.

Open your curtains during the day and close them at night

This way you will be letting the sun’s heat warm your house during the day, and keeping the cold out at night.

Dry your washing outside - or in the garage or carport if it’s raining

When you dry your washing in the house, the moisture from the clothes is released into the air, making the house damp. Drying washing outside means you will avoid the build-up of condensation in your home.

If you dry your washing in the garage, you will still need to ventilate the garage so that it doesn’t become mouldy and damp over time.

Open your windows for at least a few minutes each day to ventilate the house

Fresh air helps keep your home dry, which makes it easier and cheaper to heat.

Always open a window when you have a shower or bath, and when you’re cooking.

This releases steam, preventing it from causing condensation and dampness in your home.

Stop cold air coming into your home by blocking any draughts

To draft-proof your home, you should look to block up any unwanted gaps that let cold air in and warm air out.

For gaps under doors, a sausage-shaped draught stopper is ideal. You can buy them quite cheaply or simply roll up an old dry towel, or stuff an old rugby sock with old clothes or other unwanted fabric.

You can seal gaps around windows with weather stripping, which you can buy at a hardware store. You should also make sure that any hinges, catches and latches fit tightly.

If you have a fireplace that isn’t being used, you can block the draught from it by plugging the flue with a rubbish bag filled with shredded newspaper. Make sure everyone in the house knows you have done this, so nobody tries to light a fire with the rubbish bag still in place!

Wipe off any condensation that has collected on the inside of windows and on the walls

Condensation can make your rooms damp, which can cause mould to grow. So it’s a good habit to get into to regularly wipe condensation away before dampness can take hold. You should hang the cloth that you use to wipe away condensation outside to dry.

If you do have mould in your home, remove it regularly

Mould grows in damp places and can affect your family’s health. You can remove it using either a bleach solution or white vinegar - never mix the two.

If mould grows back after you have removed it, it could be because the room is not ventilated

properly. Try opening a window for some time every day.

Replace any portable gas heaters with safer options

Portable gas heaters are not recommended because they don’t have a flue or chimney to carry harmful gases out of your home. They also release a lot of moisture, causing condensation and making your home damp. Added to this, they are a fire risk as anything too close can easily catch fire.

Safer options for heating your home include:

  • an electric heater with a thermostat
  • a heat pump
  • a gas heater with a chimney or flue
  • a modern pellet or wood burner

Following these simple tips will help keep your home warm and dry this winter. Stay warm, stay well.

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