Keeping your home warm and dry this winter is vital. Cold, damp homes are a major cause of asthma, chest coughs and colds. Insulation and effective heating is the key to a healthy family this winter.
warm and healthy
Living in a dry and warm environment is essential for your family’s good health. To keep your little ones cough- and cold-free this winter, aim to keep the temperature at least 18C throughout your house, and remember that room temperatures under 16C are actually considered harmful. Keeping your house warm and dry also has the added advantage of avoiding unhealthy mold and dampness. If you do have any patches of mold within your house, ensure you remove it quickly using very diluted household bleach. Use extractor fans in your kitchen and bathroom, and dry your clothes outside.
During the wintertime, dampness, draughts and a lack of insulation make our homes more difficult to heat. Insulation is considered to be one of the most important things you can do to keep your home warm and dry. Unfortunately, many older houses in New Zealand were built without insulation. Insulating your ceiling and under the floor is a low-cost option to keep the heat in, and has an added bonus of reducing your heating costs, as the warmth actually stays in your house.
is your insulation too old?
Be aware though that if your insulation was installed a long time ago, it may no longer be doing its job properly, so it pays to check how old it is. There is government funding available to help with the costs of insulating and heating your house. Details can be found at www.energywise.govt.nz.
curtail the heat loss
Well-fitted curtains will help keep the heat in, and pulling your curtains before dusk will make a big difference in winter to your home’s internal temperature. You should also consider using draught stops under doors and draught-proofing strips around windows and doors; as well as using double-glazing for your windows.
Minimizing allergens in your home is another good starting point for keeping your family healthy this winter. Watch carefully for allergy triggers in your children. These could be anything from foods to cigarette smoke, pets to dust mite feces. If someone in your family does suffer from asthma or has an allergy to dust mite faeces, one of the most effective things to do is use a special bedding cover that provides a barrier to them. Vacuuming regularly is also essential and the type of filter in your vacuum cleaner is very important. Vacuum cleaners with a micro-filter, an “S-class” filter, or a HEPA (“High-Efficiency Particulate Air” ) filter system are the best. Direct sunlight kills dust mites, so hang your washing out in the sun to dry and air your blankets, duvets, and any rugs weekly. For children’s soft toys or cuddlies, wash them regularly and dry in the sun or put them in the deep freeze for 24-48 hours every few weeks, this will kill the dust mites. Additionally, in the summer months you can further filter your air with domestic air conditioning units. This way, your home will be so much better ventilated and you can breathe easily!
Parents can get a Child Asthma Plan from www.asthmafoundation.org.nz or contact their nearest Asthma Society.
10 top tips for a healthy home
- Insulate your ceiling and under the floor to keep heat in and heating costs down
- Reduce dust mites
- Keep your house smoke-free
- Remove any mould immediately
- Use electric or flued gas heaters only
- Air your house on fine days
- Dry your clothes outside
- Keep room temperatures to a minimum of 18C
- Fix leaky taps, guttering and wet areas around your home
- Consider double-glazing for your windows
Last but not the least, here is an additional tip to keep your home warm during the cozy winters. Thermostatically controlled heaters are good for maintaining a constant temperature in your home, and as such, heat pumps, in particular, have seen a dramatic rise in popularity these past few years. Heat pumps are an efficient form of heating, although there are significant differences between models and brands. If you’re looking to purchase heaters, you could start checking from Goodman Heat Pumps. It is important to do a bit of research before you make your final decision.
It is also important to get one that is a good fit for the size of the area that you want to heat. Actual running costs can vary a lot depending on several things, including how well insulated your home is and how you use your heating. Learning to use the timer features and regularly cleaning the filters will ensure you use your heat pump more efficiently.