Homes

Winter heating options

Keeping warm in winter shouldn't simply involve turning on a heater. There are lots of ways in which you can make your home comfortable, and still be energy conscious. Some are as simple as adding another layer of clothing, or hunting out a hot-water bottle.

By Andrew McNulty

An oldie but a goodie

You can't beat the humble hot-water bottle for warming your toes when winter creeps in. Nowadays you can get fancy gel ones, but a traditional rubber number has its own special charm!

Window waste

Draughts can easily make their way inside around windows, but putting up nice heavy, thermal-backed curtains can help.

And so to bed

We all know that plunging into a cold bed on a midwinter night is a pretty miserable experience. Electric blankets can help make bedtime more comfortable, but they should be turned off when you hop into bed and be checked regularly for faults. Instead, you can try a good quality down duvet on top and a wool underlay underneath.

It's great to insulate

Ask any energy expert about the the most basic and foolproof ways to make your home as warm as possible and chances are they will recommend insulation. New Zealand has a reputation for its under-insulated houses and this has sometimes been linked with childhood illnesses - especially respiratory issues.

EECA, the government funded energy authority, offers subsidies for retro-fitting insulation in properties built before 2000, so their website is worth checking out.

The idea is to add ceiling and/or underfloor insulation, but the help on offer can also cover hot-water cylinder wrapping, pipe lagging and draught-stopping products.

Add another layer

While it's tempting to load the fire with coal, or crank up electric heaters, in many northern areas of New Zealand this shouldn't always be necessary.

A simple wool or polar fleece throw can help keep you warm while relaxing in front of the TV.

If everyone in the family has their own and is encouraged to use it, you could find your power savings are quite significant. Earmark this money for a meal out or an outing in order to keep younger family members motivated!

There are a number of innovative products on the market designed to cover specific heating needs. For example, if you have an elderly relative, heated foot warmers ould be a welcome gift!

While the cost of buying a heater has come down considerably in the last 20 years, you do need to bear in mind that the cost of energy itself has inceased markedly. Nevertheless, modern heaters are effective and efficient which mitigates some of the downsides!

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