As the winter cold snap hits Hawke's Bay, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) says people can take simple, low-cost steps to make their homes warmer.

Senior technical adviser Christian Hoerning says EECA gets calls during cold snaps from people asking how to warm up their homes.

He says EECA advises people to insulate and install effective heating but there are also some simple low-cost DIY solutions to cut down cold draughts.

"Check hinges and catches or latches on doors and windows. If they are loose, tighten them up.


"Weather stripping can be used to seal gaps around many doors or windows," Mr Hoerning said.

"For gaps under doors, you can fit draught excluders - or for external doors, spring-loaded automatic seals."

Older houses often have unused fireplaces that let in the cold air. Mr Hoerning suggests blocking the chimney with a plastic bag filled with shredded newspaper - but make sure it's very obvious so no one tries to light a fire.

Gaps around electrical wiring and plumbing passages are also common, he says.

"Seal gaps using silicone sealants [for smaller gaps] or polyurethane foam [for bigger gaps].

"These passages are often hidden so don't forget to look behind kitchen and bathroom cabinetry and inside wardrobes and hot water cupboards."

Mr Hoerning says households should prioritise keeping their homes warm and dry because cold, damp homes increase the risk of respiratory illness.

Insulation is the most effective way of making your house easier to heat and healthier and low-income households at high health risk may be eligible for free insulation through Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes, Mr Hoerning says.


Households that don't qualify for free insulation may be able to add the cost to their rates or mortgage - costing from about $9 a week, Mr Hoerning says.

"A heater will do a much better job of warming an insulated, dry and draught-free house," he says.

EECA also recommends people shop around to make sure they are getting the best deal on their power.

To compare your options, check out or, for more information visit