The chilly weather is a timely reminder about ways to trim heating costs.
Here are some of the best tips from our website.
Just under half (42 per cent on average) of all household heat is lost through the ceiling, so insulate that first. Many older homes have no insulation. In others, the insulation is inadequate, either because earlier building requirements specified only a thin layer, or because the insulation material may have shrunk or shifted. Ceiling insulation material needs to be 100mm to 150mm thick to be effective. It also needs to be airtight, with no leaks.
Walls account for 24 per cent of lost heat, but they are more difficult to insulate unless you are building a new home or extensively renovating. One way to insulate is to reline interior walls with gib board.
Raised wooden floors can also be a problem. It is estimated that 12 per cent of heat loss is through the floor. Wood fibre insulation board and floor coverings minimise heat loss through the floor. Another alternative is to fit insulation below the floor. Cardboard can be stapled between floor joists, creating an insulated layer of air.
About 12 per cent of a household's heat is lost through windows. Well-made, full-length curtains or thermal drapes keep heat from escaping through windows. Thick, heavy fabrics are the most efficient. Light materials should be lined. Because a lot of air is lost around the edges, curtains should extend 150mm on each side, and below the window. A full pelmet is recommended. Heavy drapes are more heat efficient than blinds.
K.W. from Romahapa writes, "We have recently lined the existing curtains in our house with new woollen blankets from the army surplus shop. The blankets are folded double and stitched together making an open ended bag which is then attached to the curtain at the top so that the completed article consists of three layers, being the original curtain and two thicknesses of woollen blanket. This has increased the average temperature in the house appreciably by reducing the heat loss through the glass. We believe this to be far more cost-effective than double glazing."
"Stop-draught sausages", a fabric sausage filled with sand or sawdust, can eliminate door draughts. These sneaky heat hounds develop a personality of their own with buttons as eyes (an excellent family project).
Seal leaky window and door joinery with sealants or a self-adhesive foam strip.
A wood-burning coal range or potbelly stove is a cheap way to heat your home and a great way to save on cooking costs.
Warm a bed rather than a bedroom: electric blankets are cheap to run and hot water bottles even cheaper.
A thick layer of newspaper under mats keeps the room warmer in winter and makes the carpet last longer.
Canny Scot from Christchurch says, "I have a heat pump but it does not cost me much to run as I also have a DVS, which blows the warm air from the roof space down to dry and warm my home. I also have a solar panel to heat the water. I have calculated a saving of approx $500 a year from the DVS and solar."
Depression baby from Auckland writes, "Those with a wood burner or pellet heater could install a small swivelling fan high up in a corner of the room. It will drive warm air down to where you need it most and, if you like, into adjoining rooms."
Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips at www.oilyrag.co.nz.