The best way to improve the health of your home is to make it smokefree. As well as keeping cigarette smoke out, over winter you need to be aware of smoke from log and wood burners. Try to avoid this type of heating if possible and consider keeping windows and doors closed if your neighbours have log fires burning.
Effective home insulation reduces heat loss and prevents drafts. It can both save you money in the long term and create a healthier living space. Grants are available to eligible homeowners for insulation and heating through the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme. Some regional and local councils offer insulation deals, so it’s worth getting in touch to ask. If you’re a renter, Consumer NZ has put together a renter’s guide to a warmer home which is available on their website.
Installing well-fitted, double-layered curtains, preferably with thermal backings can make a real difference to heat loss. If the curtain is fitted close to the wall and extends beyond the edge of the window, it will be more effective in retaining warmth. If you have a glass-paned front door, consider installing a curtain over this during winter.
It is important to allow fresh air to circulate around your home during winter, as this will blow out respiratory triggers like dust, mould spores and moisture. Improving ventilation can be as simple as opening doors and windows for a 10 to 20-minute period each day. Moving beds and other furniture a hand’s width out from the wall, will allow air to circulate more freely and prevent the build-up of mould in these areas.
An effective heating system can make all the difference to your home. The Government’s GenLess website is a great source of information on different heating options, outlining their pros and cons. Be sure to avoid portable or unflued indoor gas heaters as they increase moisture and release dangerous toxins. Grants are available to cover the costs of heating through the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme and through some council supported providers. For those on a low income, the Ministry of Development’s Winter Energy Payment may be an option.
More heating tips
If you have a portable heater, placing it on the cold side of the room or near a window can help distribute heat around the room more effectively. For those with oil column heaters, tests by Consumer NZ found that placing a small fan on the floor, pointed at the heater, distributed heat around the room much more efficiently, than using this type of heater on its own.
Dehumidifiers can be useful in creating a drier home, when used in small to medium-sized rooms with the windows closed. Other easy ways to reduce moisture include regularly wiping condensation from windows, keeping lids on pots while cooking and using extraction fans. Try to avoid drying clothes indoors if possible.
Regularly check for mould behind furniture and curtains and remove it immediately using warm, soapy water, bleach or white vinegar.
Find the draughts
On a windy day, spend some time identifying draughts in your home. One easy way to reduce draughts coming from under doors is by using a dry, rolled-up towel or a draught stopper.