Warmer, drier homes

Keeping your family healthy this winter means keeping your home warm and dry.

Keep your home warm and dry, and create as much space to spread out around your home, rather than having to crowd in the same room. Having more warm rooms and more sleeping spaces available means germs such as strep throat, which can lead to rheumatic fever, are less likely to spread.

If you choose to follow even just a couple of tips, your home could be cheaper to heat and more comfortable to live in, and you will be helping to protect your family from health problems.

Watch the videos below to learn more about how to keep your home warm and dry. You can also watch the videos in Māori and English, Samoan and English, and Tongan and English.

Key tips for a warmer, drier home


Sleeping

[Margaret standing outside her house]

Kia ora, my name is Margaret Walker, Haki and I have owned this house for 10 years and we’ve got 4 children. So nau mai ki tōku whare [come on into my house] and we'll go and wake up the kids.

[Margaret walks inside]

[Margaret walks into her son’s bedroom]

This is where our boys’ room is.

So we sleep them on their own beds, on the bunks at opposite ends and on the single bed, obviously at their own end, just to give them their own headspace, so that if they're coughing and sneezing throughout the night they are not doing it all over one another.

[Title] Sleeping space

[Still image of Margaret’s son’s in their beds]

[Voice over] Kids cough and sneeze out germs when they sleep so create as much space as possible between their heads to make it harder for the germs to spread.

[End title] More key tips for a warmer, drier home.

Curtains

[Margaret standing outside her house]

Kia ora, my name is Margaret Walker, Haki and I have owned this house for 10 years and we’ve got 4 children. We try our best to keep our home warm and dry in the colder months to stop the kids from getting sick and there’s a few things that we do within the home to do that.

[Margaret sons open the bedroom curtains]

[Title] Curtains

We make it their job to open the curtains and windows in the morning. The good thing about opening your curtains during the day is that it allows the sun to heat your home for free.

[Margaret and her son’s close the curtains]

Remember to always close your curtains at night and get that heating going.

[Title] Curtains

[Voice over] Curtains - open them during the day to let the sun’s heat in, close them just before sunset to keep the cold night air out.

[Still image of Margaret’s son opening the curtains]

[Still image of Margaret closing the curtains]

If you choose to use alternatives like sheets or lavalava make sure you have a snug fit around the window frame. You might be able to get curtains free or cheaply from your local curtain bank.

[End title] More key tips for a warmer, drier home.

Heating

[Fesili standing outside her house]

My husband and I have been living here for 3 years and we have 7 children.

[Fesili’s children running up the hallway]

[Fesili’s daughter removing the gas heater]

We used to have our portable gas heater, which we no longer use because of its dangerous fumes and it was making our fale damp, but now we have this electric heater and it's much safer and cheaper to use.

[Title] Heating

 [Margaret standing outside her house]

We try our best to keep our home warm and dry in the colder months to stop the kids from getting sick and there’s a few things that we do within the home to do that.

[Margaret in the living area]

So up here we have a heat pump, which has a thermostat in it, which is really great, it doesn’t cost as much to use as other heaters do, which is really good for us.

[Title] Heating

[Voice over] The right heater for your home can make it easier and cheaper to heat.

[Still image of an electric heater]

A thermostat keeps the costs down, and your home comfortable.

[Still image of Margaret with remote pointing at heater, Margaret turning thermostat]

20 degrees is nice and warm when you’re up, and turn it down to 16 in the bedrooms at night.

[Still images of remote and a gas heater with a big X through it]

Portable gas heaters are expensive to run, create dampness and give out dangerous fumes.

[End title] More key tips for a warmer, drier home.

Condensation

[Margaret standing outside her house]

We try our best to keep our home warm and dry in the colder months to stop the kids from getting sick and there’s a few things that we do within the home to do that.

[Margaret wipes condensation off the windows]

[Title] Wipe off condensation

So sometimes after a cold night the water gets on the windows and walls so you can wipe them off with a cloth just so the house doesn’t stay cold and damp. Damp air is more expensive to heat so when your house is drier, it's cheaper and easier to heat.

[Margaret’s daughter grabs the used cloth]

Thank you.

[Title] Wipe off condensation

[Voice over] Condensation, or water that has collected on windows and walls, makes rooms feel damp and can cause mould to grow.

[Still image of Margaret wiping condensation from window]

To help keep your home dry, wipe it off when you see it. A dry home is easier and cheaper to heat.

[End title] More key tips for a warmer, drier home.

Windows

[Margaret standing outside her house]

We try our best to keep our home warm and dry in the colder months to stop the kids from getting sick and there’s a few things that we do within the home to do that.

[Title] Open windows

[In the kitchen, Margaret’s partner and kids get breakfast ready]

Every day we open up a couple of windows to let some fresh air in.

[Margaret] So why do you think we open the windows, son?

[Margaret’s son] To let the fresh air in and keep the house healthy.

[Margaret] Good boy.

[Title] Open windows

[Voice over] Open your windows for at least 20 minutes on fine days and a few minutes every day in winter. Bringing fresh air into your home is another great way to help keep your home dry.

[Still images of opening windows]

[End title] More key tips for a warmer, drier home.

Steam

[Fesili standing outside her house]

My husband and I have been living here for 3 years and we have 7 children.

[Fesili’s son getting out of the shower]

You all right there son?

[Title] Reduce steam

As you can see, it doesn’t take that much to steam up in here, so I just turn on the extractor fan and I open the window a little bit to let the steam out.

You can go and put your ofu on now and get ready for school.

[Title] Open windows

[Fesili in the kitchen]

It's also very important to open your windows or fa’aaoga extractor fan if you have one as it helps steamy areas from getting damp and mouldy.

[Title] Reduce steam

[Voice over] To help prevent dampness and mould, open windows in the kitchen when you cook and in the bathroom when you take a shower or bath, to let steam out.

[Still images of Fesili and her kids opening the windows]

[Still image turning on the extractor fan on the oven]

Make sure you use your kitchen and bathroom extractor fans if you have them.

[End title] More key tips for a warmer, drier home.

Draughts

[Noelini standing outside her house]

[Noelini] Malo e lelei. My name is Noelini.

[Noelini inside her house with her husband Paul and kids]

This is my lounge and this is where we all like to hang out during the evening.

 [Noelini sits in front of the door]

The problem with this room is that there is cold air that comes down through the bottom here, and how I fix that is by getting a draught stopper, and placing it there to stop the cold air from coming through.

[Title] Stop draughts

[Noelini places a draught stopper against the door]

If you don’t have a draught stopper, you can roll up a dry towel and place it there, and that will stop the draught from coming in.

[Noelini places a rolled up towel against the door]

[Noelini sits in front of the door]

It’s really important to stop the draughts from coming under the door and through the windows because it helps to keep our house warm.

[Title] Stop draughts

[Voice over] To stop cold air getting into your home, stop draughts around doors, windows and fireplaces.

[Still image of door stopper being placed below door]

Use a draught stopper or an old rolled-up towel.

[Still image of weather stripping being installed around windows/doors]

You can buy weather stripping to stop draughts around windows from hardware stores.

[End title] More key tips for a warmer, drier home.

Mould

[Noelini standing outside her house]

[Noelini] Malo e lelei. My name is Noelini. I’m from Kolonga, Tongatapu. My mali and I, Paola, we’ve been living here in this home for approximately 14 years.

[Noelini walks into the bathroom]

[Title] Remove mould

Something that likes damp areas is mould, it builds up around the windows and on the walls.

As soon as you see it, it's really important to clean it off straight away.

[Noelini mixes up a mould cleaning solution]

To make up the solution you just add one capful of bleach to every litre of water. If you don’t have bleach, you can also use vinegar to get rid of the mould.

[Noelini wipes down the walls in the bathroom]

Whatever you use, leave it on for about 15 minutes and rinse it off with warm soapy water.

[Title] Remove mould

[Voice over] Bleach or white vinegar will remove mould from ceilings and walls.

[Still image of mould cleaning solution being mixed up]

[Still image of mould on the wall]

Mould grows in damp and wet places and can affect your family’s health.

[Title] If using bleach: Add 2 teaspoons to 1 litre of water. If using white vinegar: Don’t add any water. Never mix bleach and vinegar

[End title] More key tips for a warmer, drier home.

Washing

[Noelini standing outside her house]

[Noelini] Malo e lelei. My name is Noelini.

[Noelini bringing in the washing off the line]

[Title] Dry washing outside

When you can, hang your washing out in the sun or in the carport, garage that way it will keep your house dry and it will be less expensive to heat.

[Title] Dry washing outside

[Still images of washing being hung outside]

[Voice over] To help keep the damp out of your home, dry your washing outside, or in the garage or carport.

[End title] More key tips for a warmer, drier home.

Help with keeping your home warm and dry

There's help available with keeping your home warm and dry.

Get to know your heating options

Energywise has advice on choosing heating options for your home.

Consumer New Zealand's home heating guide has advice on the best heating appliances, insulation and how to deal with dampness:

Find out about getting your home insulated

Insulation keeps heat inside your home in winter, and keeps it out in summer. This makes it easier to warm your home.

You may be eligible for subsided insulation installed through the Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme. You must live in a private rental property and meet certain conditions – see Energywise link below.

Some local or regional councils offer insulation deals – check with them to see what's available.

Get assistance from Work and Income

Some families may be able to get help from Work and Income to keep your home warm and healthy, or if your children are unwell.

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