Keeping their Napier home warm in winter is a team effort for the Mokotupu family, as a daily plan keeps themselves and the home dry and healthy.

Te Atakura Mokotupu said her family relies solely on a Work and Income benefit for income after her 38-year-old husband, Temu Mokotupu, was paralysed and confined to a wheelchair after a tree-climbing accident as a boy 22 years ago.

"He's not your typical man in a wheelchair though. He would much rather be working but there's not too many out there willing to give him a chance."

Mrs Mokotupu said her sole responsibility was looking after her two young boys, aged 5 and 9 months, and making sure they were warm and healthy.


"We are renting, and we decided when looking for a place that we really wanted one with insulation," she said.

"That was a big priority for us with two young kids and it makes a huge difference."

The family also invested in a heat pump, rather than an electric or gas heater, and when home they set it to a constant temperature to save power.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority states that heat pumps, when used properly as the family does, have low running costs and are one of the best ways to keep a home warm.

"We don't keep turning it on and off, and we don't put the temperature up really high when it's cold either for instant heat. When we are home we keep it at 18C and keep it going.

"It doesn't chew through the power that way and even though it's cold outside, when you come into a home set at 18C it's a big change from 13C or 14C."

She said the "right meal" is also another way she helps keep her family warm in the cold.

"During the winter months we will eat a lot of soups, pumpkin, chicken, tomato soups. It's a really cheap feed and it keeps you nice and warm inside.

"I've got three boys," she jokingly said of her husband and two sons.

"So they like to eat a lot, soups are a great way to fill them up with a hot meal."

The family did not have electric blankets because they weren't an efficient heating method.

"We don't use electric blankets at all. If it's a really cold night we will all sleep together - during winter we sleep in socks, trackies and jumpers if we are cold."

She said as the days grew darker, evenings were spent together as the family closed off the house and "migrates to one room", allowing their body heat to warm the room.

The family also shares showers in the mornings in a bid to save extra dollars on their power bill.

The Hawke's Bay District Health Board provides tips for families with a low income looking to stay warm this winter.