It’s thought that as many as 600,000 New Zealand houses are lacking adequate ceiling or underfloor insulation – and even those with existing insulation can find it less effective over time.
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority estimates 45 percent of homes suffer from mould caused by too much moisture, which in turn is associated with health problems including asthma, eczema and headaches.
However, a few simple precautions leading into the chilly season could see you right, says Stan from Mitre 10 Easy As.
“The key is to take a three-pronged approach,” Stan says. “You need to insulate, ventilate, and heat.
“Almost half of your household heat is lost through the roof, so having proper insulation in the ceiling cavity is essential to trap this heat and make the most of it. Make sure you have good thermal insulation in your wall cavity also, and don’t forget simple but effective actions such as drawing the curtains to keep heat in and installing weather and door strips.
“To combat excessive humidity, invest in a good dehumidifier. Bringing down the moisture levels in your home will also make it unfriendly to dust mites and in turn help allergy sufferers.
“While it might seem contradictory, opening windows to allow air to circulate will also help to lower moisture. Signs you need to get a dehumidifier include condensation on windows, musty smells, rotting wood and wet stains on walls and ceilings.
“And finally, heat your home thoroughly. New Zealanders tend to hold back from heating in order to save money or energy, which doesn’t work in the long run for the overall health of you and your family.
“Plus there are a whole raft of heating options that will suit different needs and budgets. If you’ve got a wood fire, remember to get the chimney checked and cleaned before winter. If you’re opting for a heat pump, get it installed by a registered electrician.
“And don’t forget that with the cold season comes fire risk – so make sure you have smoke alarms installed and that you test them regularly,” Stan says.
To help New Zealanders stay warm in winter, Mitre 10 has a number of clips on its YouTube channel focussed on reducing home heat loss. General manager marketing, Dave Elliott says at this time of year there is a rise in people watching these.
“Our guide on how to reduce home heat loss has had quite a spike already this season, and the larger insulation project guides have lifted too,” Dave says. “This is really positive. It’s great to see people willing to get stuck in to DIY and looking to us for advice. It’s in line with our research findings and showing us we’re on the right track.”
For further information on how to reduce home heat loss, see the Mitre 10 Easy As guide at www.mitre10.co.nz