Simple tips to keep your home warm

We are currently in the midst of winter with the usual rounds of flu.

Most New Zealand homes are far from satisfactory conditions.

All of us want a warm, comfortable home.

Due to inadequate design interventions or strategies, around 35% of the energy used in the average New Zealand home goes on heating.

Improving your home’s ability to keep in the heat and smart use of a clean, efficient heating system will make your home cost-effective, warmer and healthier.

Retrofit Your Home, an Auckland Council initiated programme, is designed to provide healthier, warmer homes with a free assessment and Retrofit Plan.

If your house was built before 2000, you can apply for up to $5000 financial assistance through the Council. This can help you get your home retrofitted with what is needed to make it energy and water-efficient and keep your family healthy.

However, it is advisable to look at other strategies to conserve heat and prevent heat loss. Some of the common factors are efficient house design, use of optimum heating devices and maximising insulation.

Heating: Irrespective of the heating method installed, you must heat only the areas that are in use. Set the thermostat and aim for healthy indoor temperatures.

World Health Organisation guidelines recommend at least 18˚C. Use timer features so that the heater comes on an hour or so before you need it instead of leaving it on all day. A timer (for electric heater) would cost about $15.

You can reduce heat loss in several other ways.

Avoid air leakage: It is important to minimise the amount of air leakage from your house, improving insulation. Common places where draughts occur are around doors, windows, skylights, fireplaces and plumbing penetrations.

Thermal curtains: Hang full-length lined curtains of good quality thermal or closely woven fabrics. A pelmet will reduce heat loss further. Drawing your curtains at sunset will help retain heat inside the house.

Double-glazing: This can halve the energy loss through windows and lessen condensation and external noise. It is relatively expensive to install but it is worth considering, particularly when your windows need replacing or when renovating.

Consider replacing your down lights: A safety clearance of 150 mm is necessary between insulation and standard down lights, which reduce the effectiveness of the insulation. If you have standard down lights, consider replacing them with CA-rated models that allow insulation to be fitted.

Ways to reduce internal moisture: Try to keep the moisture content in the interior environment to the minimum.

In most homes, insulation alone would not fix dampness problems. If the area under your house is damp, fix any drainage or plumbing issues.

You should make sure that it is properly ventilated and look at installing damp-proof sheeting under the house.

Make sure externally vented extractor fans are used in areas of the home that produce lot of moisture, including kitchen, bathroom and laundry.

Other tips are (1) Put lids on pots when cooking (2) Open windows in the bathroom and kitchen, or use extractor fans to remove steam (3) Dry clothes outside (4) Open windows on fine days to let air through and to reduce mould and dampness (5) Remove mould using a cloth or sponge with household bleach (6) Avoid using unflued gas heating as it increases moisture and releases toxins

Bobby Banerjee is the Director of Tarzan Design Ltd, which provides comprehensive architectural design solutions. He has a postgraduate (Master) degree in Architecture from the University of Auckland. He is a professional member of the Architectural Designers of New Zealand and a Licensed Building Practitioner.

Phone (09) 8360576 Email: bobby@tarzandesign.co.nz

Website: www.tarzandesign.co.nz

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