Four quick tips to warm your homeby Ruth Nichol
Control indoor moisture
Moist air provides a breeding ground for mould, which has been linked to respiratory illnesses. Moist air is also harder to heat, so keep your home as dry as possible. Use extractor fans if you have them, or open a window when you’re cooking and showering – and never dry laundry inside. David Pierce from the Sustainability Trust also recommends laying a sheet of heavy polythene on the ground under your house to stop moist air coming through the floor. “It’s relatively inexpensive and it’s certainly within DIY territory,” he says.
Airing your house regularly helps remove airborne bugs and reduces overall moisture levels. “The air outside is generally drier than inside air, even on a wet day,” says Pierce. He recommends opening a couple of windows for at least 15 minutes a day – preferably at opposite ends of the house to create a through breeze.
Reduce heat loss
Installing ceiling and underfloor insulation is an important first step in making your house warmer and drier. Block off unused chimneys and get lined curtains that reach the floor – their length helps stop cold air trapped behind the curtains from escaping into the room. A pelmet, or even a rolled-up towel behind the curtain track, can also help make curtains more thermally efficient. You can also use rolled-up towels or a traditional “door snake” and put draught tape inside door and window frames to help retain heat and stop cold air from coming in. “Draughts account for 12-14% of heat loss,” says Pierce.
Make the most of the sun
You can’t reorient a south-facing house, but you can make the most of any northern winter sun you do get. Pull your curtains in the morning – including net curtains, which can stop sunlight from coming in – and close them again when the sun goes down to retain the heat in your house.
This article was first published in the May 27, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.
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