Winter is here again so its time to get active…

…eat lots of fruit and vegetables to ward off Winter colds and ‘flu. Have hot meals and hot drinks to keep your family warm and healthy and wrap up in layers of warm clothes to stay snug when you leave the house.

Why is it important to keep my home warm and dry?

It’s important for your family’s health that your house is warm and dry. Cold and damp homes are linked to poor health, especially for babies and small children, people who are ill, and older people. here are some ways to keep your home healthy that won’t break the bank:

How to heat your house

Only heat the room that you are in. Try and keep the temperature between 18 and 21 degrees especially if you have babies, people with illnesses, or older people living in your home. Dress warmly for bed and make sure your bedroom is warm enough – it is very important to stay warm during the night. Block up unused chimneys and stop draughts around doors and windows. You can make your own draught ‘snakes’ by stuffing rugby socks or pantyhose with newspaper or cushion filling. Up to 20% of heating can be lost through draughts.Open windows and curtains on sunny days, and close them when the sun goes down to trap heat in your home. Trim any trees that prevent sun entering your house (but if you are renting, remember to ask your landlord first!). (in the fridge is best) rather than in the microwave.Cheap ways to be green and save money

Install eco-friendly bulbs. These bulbs can last for many years and they use 80 per cent less power than standard light bulbs. An energy efficient showerhead can use up to 50 per cent less hot water than a standard one. Consider installing one yourself, or ask your landlord if one can be fitted. Check the seals on your fridge to make sure they are still working. If they stop working or become less effective, warm air will enter your fridge, making it work harder and use more power.

To test your seals, put a piece of paper in the door and close it. If the paper can be easily pulled out, you may need to have the seals replaced. Do the same with your oven, as it could be losing precious heat energy whenever you cook.

Companies that will replace the seals are listed in the yellow Pages under fridges and freezers – Servicing, or Ovens and stoves. Double glazing on windows is an effective way of controlling heat loss and condensation, but can be very costly. A cheaper alternative is to buy a window insulator kit, which involves fitting plastic film to the inside of wooden windows. This can be done easily, and will make your windows 90 per cent more energy efficient.

These can be purchased in the South Island from Community Energy Action, 198 Armagh Street, Christchurch, or email: info@cea.co.nz or in the North island from Negawatt Resources, email: info@nrl.co.nz or phone 0-4-939 0313. If you are replacing an appliance, try to ensure the replacement appliance is as energy efficient as possible. The higher initial cost will benefit you in the long run through savings made to your power bills.

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