After a long and unusually warm summer, frosty mornings are back, but there are easy ways Kiwis can keep their toes warmer this winter.

Auckland Council has simple advice for your home: heat it, keep it and dry it - meaning get heat into your home, keep it there and reduce moisture.

Staying healthy through winter is all about keeping indoor temperatures between 18C and 21C, Auckland council eco-design adviser Adrian Feasey said.

When temperatures dip below 18C, the chances of developing respiratory illnesses rise.

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But heating over 21C means higher power bills with diminishing returns of warmth, Feasey said.

Feasey's top tips for keeping your home warm and dry include trimming back trees to let sunshine in during the day, and closing curtains (ideally lined) about an hour before the sun sets to trap heat in.

"Every square metre of window getting particularly northern sun is like running a small panel heater for free."

Home owners should install a clean, efficient heating system such as a heat pump or woodburner, and those using portable heaters should use a timer and thermostat to keep the temperature within the right range and coming on at the right time of day.

Air circulation is important as well.

"Try to open two windows for 20 minutes to get a cross breeze," Feasey said.

The air would be drier and easier to heat later in the day as a result.

Extractor fans in the bathroom and kitchen need to be on when moisture was being created, and should extract outside rather than into the attic, Feasey said.

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Any mould should be removed immediately. A mixture of three parts water and seven parts white vinegar sprayed, left for 30 minutes and then wiped off should do the trick.

A ground sheet under the house would also stop "rising damp" for houses with a cavity and dirt floor beneath, Feasey said.

Finally, insulation which has been properly installed is a must.

"You can lose up to 50 per cent of your home's heat by not having good ceiling or under-floor insulation."


Even a gap of 1cm could affect insulation's effectiveness by up to 30 per cent.

"If you're a landlord, be aware the legislation comes into effect in July next year when you need to meet insulation standards."
Auckland Council offers programmes to assist homeowners and renters with making their homes warm and dry.

Free home performance advice and grants and financial assistance for Aucklanders can be applied for through the council's website.

Electric blanket safety

Kiwis need to be fire smart when bringing electric blankets out of hibernation.

Fire investigator Jason Goffin warned that any electric blankets showing wear and tear, or folded in a cupboard since last winter, needed to be checked by an electrician.

Electric blankets needed to be rolled when stored to avoid damaging the wires.

"Make sure your electric blanket is switched off before getting into bed," Goffin said.

Electric blankets should be replaced every five years.

Auckland council's top 10 tips to help make your home warm, dry and energy efficient:

• Trim trees and shrubs blocking sun entering windows
• Install a clean, efficient heating system and heat to 18-21C
• Choose a portable heater with a thermostat, timer and fan, or retrofit them
• Open and close curtains at the right times
• Check insulation, and landlords should be aware of new obligations coming up
• Install lined curtains, closed off on at least three sides
• Install, maintain and use extractor fans correctly in the bathroom and kitchen
• Install a groundsheet under the house
• Open windows for at least 20 minutes a day
• Remove mould as soon as it appears