Tips to keep your property warm this winter
After a glorious autumn filled with sunshine and warm days, winter has arrived. As we know, the increase in electrical bills when you plug in heaters and turn on those heat pumps are painful for your wallet. Here you will find a mix of easy tips for property owners and renters.
Windows are a clear issue when it's cold
Older windows, especially those made with wood, constrict and expand during temperature fluctuations making crevasses where wind can sneak inside. There are affordable kits (available for around $35) at home improvement stores that simply require a hair dryer that will cover your windows in plastic. This is a cheap way to rectify unwanted breezes.
The great heater versus heat pump debate
Heat pumps are not mandatory in rentals as part of Healthy Homes legislation until 2020. Data shows us that over time heat pumps are more energy efficient than heaters costing less to run. However, only 25% of homes in New Zealand have a heat pump* and the upfront cost of one can be hard to afford if you are on a tight budget which makes a space heater your only option. According to energywise.govt.nz, a heat pump used six hours per day for six months of the year with an energy output of 6KwH will cost around $400 per year to operate. This means that using a heat pump instead of an equivalent electric heater in your living space can save you around $500 a year on your power bill.
If you are a homeowner or landlord, a heat pump can increase the value of your property making the return on investment very appealing.
If you are renting you can ask your landlord if they would be willing to install a heat pump now before it is required by the government.
Use your craft skills
Fire up your sewing machine and make a series of door draught stoppers. They will prevent air from seeping in from the outside and into living and sleeping areas. You can fill them with cheap materials such as rice to achieve the density and weight necessary to block draughts.
Fans during winter can keep you warm
If you have them, reverse the direction on your ceiling fans. This will push the hot air down as it rises and helps to recirculate air throughout the house.
Trees are terrific natural wind barriers
Planting a few strategically placed trees can greatly reduce the amount of wind that reaches your home. Over time, as they grow, many species of wind hearty trees that are native to New Zealand can create a natural buffer against gusts which can be especially dramatic if you live near the water.
These windbreaks can save up to 30% in energy costs during cold months. Their placement is important in that they do not hamper the heat from sunshine during the day – the location is everything. If you are renting, planting trees is something that you can suggest to your property manager or landlord to both improve the property aesthetics, value and also energy efficiency.
Do a vent check
You may need to shift furniture and decor around once it is time to turn on the heat. Even a misplaced shelf can block the warmth from a heater or pump as you warm the house. Moving furniture that may be blocking vents will not only give your room an aesthetic refresh but will also allow the heat to flow in a more efficient manner.
Keep your water heater from cooling
Specially designed thermal “blankets” are a cheap (around $50 at most home improvement retailers) and a useful way to keep your water heater warm. Simply wrap this specially made product around the cylinder and it won't have to work as hard to heat the water from zero, every time it refills. The wrap reduces heat loss through the hot water cylinder, keeping water hotter for longer and allowing significant savings in water heating costs.
Have a heating strategy
Open doors invite draughts and can negate the efforts of even a powerful heater. When possible, keep doors to rooms closed so there is less space for heat to disperse. Closing curtains when the sun is starting to set will act as a buffer to the chilly temperatures outside as they drop at night.
Keep your oven open
Leave the oven door open when you have finished cooking. It will give the room a warm blast of air that will linger for up to an hour. Obviously, this is not a great option if you have little kids around so think safety first!
Are you prepped for the unexpected?
Purchase candles, matches, batteries, torches and other supplies which will help in the event of a power outage. Make sure that you have a small stash of cash-on-hand as ATM and card readers will not work without electricity for critical purchases such as petrol or a meal out. Fill your bathtub with water if a major storm is on the way so you have clean water to boil or flush toilets in the event that water service is interrupted. Always store bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food), blankets and a first aid kit in a dry accessible location.
If you are not a fan of the cold, winter can certainly present some challenges. By embracing these easy tips or making the right requests, it will be so much easier to keep warm.