Prepare for winter

Home Health Assessment Kit

A warm, dry home is not just more comfortable, it is also more energy efficient and much better for your health. Cold, damp and mouldy houses can lead to discomfort and more serious health problems, such as respiratory illness and cardiovascular disease. It is harder and more costly to heat damp and draughty houses.

This self-assessment toolkit will enable you to assess your home for warmth and damp, and understand how it is performing. You will find useful tips and advice to improve the comfort of your home, and the health of occupants.

You can borrow the Home Health Self-Assessment Kit for free from the five Wairarapa Libraries (Featherston, Martinborough, Greytown, Carterton and Masterton). Find out more at

Useful information:

Keep your house warm

  • Insulation
  • Use an inexpensive kit (around $6 per standard size window) to stick insulation film to the
    frames of wooden windows. It acts like double glazing.
  • Retrofit insulation in your ceilings, walls and floor.
  • Upgrade your joineries to double glaze.

    Reduce droughts
  • Check your doors and windows and fix air leaks (latches, rubber seals, etc).
  • Fit draught excluders or door snakes along the bottom of your doors.

  • Open your curtains during the day and close thembefore dark.
  • Use thermal curtains (double-layered with a thick lining) that:
  • touch the floor
  • are wider than the window frame
  • fit tightly against the wall and window frame
  • have a pelmet above curtains to add insulation

    Heating systems
  • Get professional advice when it comes to choosing a new heating system to:
  • Choose a heater that uses renewable energies (wood, wood pellets, electricity).
  • Choose an efficient model that meets your needs.
  • Follow maintenance advices for your heaters.
  • Burn dry wood (15-20 per cent moisture content) to increase efficiency and save money.

Keep your house dry

  • Reduce excess moisture
  • Don’t dry your clothes inside when possible.
  • Put lids on pots and pans when cooking to stop the steamescaping.
  • Use extraction fans in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Wipe condensation off your windows every day.

    Open your windows and doors
  • Open some windows and doors, even for 10minutes in winter, to maintain a good air flow.
  • Open windows after a shower and when cooking allow warm, moist air to escape outside.
  • Leave a window open at night if it is safe and suitable.

    Reduce humidity and moisture levels
  • Extract the moisture to the outside, and not into the ceiling, using extractor fans and
  • Use a shower cover or curtain to retain humidity in the shower cubicle.
  • Heat your house to at least 18˚C to experience fewer periods of high humidity.
  • Install a groundsheet (polyethylene barrier or vapour barrier) under your house to
    effectively reduce indoor humidity. This is very cost effective and, most of the time, you can
    do it yourself.
  • If your house is on piles, ensure good ventilation of the area under your floor.

    Burn dry wood
  • Check your firewood moisture content. A wood moisture meter can help see how wet your
    wood is. Well-seasoned (dry) wood burns cleaner, and can keep us warmer, something that we
    need in a region that gets very still and frosty in winter, and where wood smoke hangs around
    and can affect our air quality.
  • For more information on firewood visit:

Keep Your Power Bill Low

Use less hot water
Using less hot water reduces your energy consumption and costs you less money.

  • Take a shower instead of a bath and reduce your shower time (a timer and shower flow
    restrictors can help!).
  • Use cold water for your laundry, and run the dishwasher and washing machine with full
  • Fix any leaks around your home.
  • Set the thermostat of your hot water cylinder to 55-60°C (you may need a plumber to do
  • Wrap your hot water cylinder with a cylinder wrap to reduce heat loss (lost heat = lost

    Appliances and lighting
  • Choose energy-efficient appliances and turn themoff when not in use (not on standby).
  • Do not leave devices plugged in when they are fully charged.
  • Use timers and thermostat to reduce your power consumption (e.g. heaters, freezers,
    lights, etc).
  • Identify the appliances that are using a lot of power and replace them, if possible, with
    more efficient models, orminimise their use.
  • Switch your lightbulbs to LEDs to reduce your power bill for lighting by up to 83 per cent.

  • Make sure that fridge and freezer doors are sealing properly.
  • Leave 3-5cm between the back of your fridge or freezer and the wall, to enable good
    ventilation. Poor air circulation can double the electricity use of a fridge or freezer.
  • Manage the temperatures of your refrigeration appliances (-18°C for your freezer and 2-4°C
    for your fridge).

    Electricity plan
  • The website helps you find the best electricity and gas plan. Keeping
    track of your bills will help you understand where you can make savings.

    Useful links for grants and more information
    Grant for insulation and/or heating systems:
    Homefit Online check:

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