There are a few simple upgrades you might want to consider if you’re looking for a warmer, healthier home over winter. Some are more expensive than others, but your health will thank you for it later!
1. Double-glazed windows
Double-glazed windows are a great home upgrade for winter and can cut heat loss considerably. Glass is typically a poor insulator, because it’s only a few millimetres thick. Double glazing is a solution designed to combat this by using two panes of glass with an air gap in-between.
The combination of glass and the air gap makes the windows stronger insulators, keeping the temperature inside more regulated. This saves you money on heating in winter and cooling costs in the warmer months.
A lot of windows can be retrofitted with double glazing. This means a second pane of glass is fitted to the outside of your existing window. This can, however, be a costly process and changes the look of your facade.
Most glaziers will recommend replacing the entire window unit, including the frame with a new double-glazed unit. In many cases, the cost will be similar, and results in a brand new, longer lasting window.
2. DIY window insulation kits
Want to upgrade your windows but don’t want to spend as much as you would getting a professional to double glaze them? You could use a DIY window insulation kit, which consists of clear plastic film for attaching to wooden window sashes or frames using double-sided adhesive tape.
They cost a fraction of the price of double glazing, yet offer good performance in reducing heat loss and condensation in your home. You can pick up a kit from hardware stores and online shops. Installing DIY window insulation film is relatively easy – you only need a pair of scissors and a hair dryer.
3. Thicker curtains
Quality, thermally lined curtains can also prevent heat loss from windows in particularly cold areas. They can work as effectively as double glazing on your windows to retain heat and reduce your energy bills. Lined and well-fitted roman blinds also keep heat in well.
To get the most from your curtains/blinds, open them fully during the day and close at dusk. The energy from the sun coming through an average-sized, north-facing window is equivalent to running a panel heater in winter.
4. Indoor plants and herbs
Upgrade your kitchen benchtops and invite Mother Nature in with some herbs and plants. Adding greenery boosts our mood, air quality and can help balance indoor humidity. If you grow herbs or microgreens, you’re doing a favour to your health, too. They’re cheap to invest in and easy to grow.
5. Quality insulation
Even if there’s already insulation in your house, it could have lost some of its performance over the years. It’s worth checking if it needs an upgrade. Insulating your home reduces the amount of heating you need to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.
Ceilings are often the easiest and most effective areas to insulate in an existing house, if you don’t have adequate insulation in there already. If the roof space is accessible, bulk insulation can simply be placed over your ceiling lining and framing. For some home insulation measures there are even government grants that make them more affordable.
6. Invest in a heat pump
Heat pumps are among the most energy-efficient forms of heating appliances available. They’re controlled using a thermostat, so you can set them to keep your home within a specific temperature range at different times of the day.
They’re good for room-specific heating, but think about size carefully if you’re going to upgrade your heating and get one. If the unit is too small for the room you’re heating, it may cost you more to run and will struggle to provide enough heat when you most need it. The NZ Tenancy site has a good heating assessment tool you can use for free.
7. Consider an electric heater
You might want to pop an electric heater in your bedroom to warm it up before you sleep. It’s worth the money to take chills off the air. Electric heaters are most useful if you want to provide warmth for a single person or a single room. As a general rule:
- Use panel heaters and oil-filled column heaters in well-insulated homes that don’t require a lot of heating, or to heat a single room, such as a bedroom.
- Use radiant heaters in poorly insulated homes, since they radiate warmth directly onto you, or in spaces you’ll only use for short periods.
If you’re concerned about electricity use in your home, check you’re on the best deal! You might be surprised. Canstar regularly compares providers across NZ:
Canstar Blue’s latest review of NZ power companies compares them on customer satisfaction. The table below is an abridged version of our full results, available here.
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Canstar Blue NZ Research finalised in May 2019, published in June 2019.
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8. Thicker rugs
A decent rug can be expensive, but wooden floors are pretty cold and just wearing socks might not cut it. A good rug adds another layer of insulation to a bedroom or lounge. They make the room feel cosy and can also tie the rest of your decor together. A thick rug will help prevent heat loss through the floor, especially if there’s no insulation underneath. Adding a long runner in the hallway will help if you live in a house like a villa, too.
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