When I first came to New Zealand I was really surprised at how cold and wet the houses can be! As a French person, it’s hard to understand why many kiwi houses have little or no insulation, especially when you arrive in Dunedin mid-winter…
France is not perfect, but we have double (or even triple) glazing, in most of our housing - and NZ can get just as cold as France!
Bad housing conditions increase the number of unhealthy people because of the mould and the cold.
New Zealand has the second highest rate of asthma in the world (after the UK).
People can get asthma from spending just a few months in a kiwi flat and this has to stop! Students are often on a tight budget, so here are some free/affordable tips to help you have a warm & dry student flat this winter: Fight against the mould:
Open the windows for 20 minutes once a day even when it’s cold outside: It helps to get fresh air in and to push moisture out so as to have a healthier house.
Try to not dry your clothes inside: dry your clothes outside or take them once a week to a laundromat. It’s not a big effort or cost and helps reduce moisture in the home.
In your bathroom, use the extractor fan and window when you shower. Before you shower: Turn on the fan and open the window a little bit. After you shower: Open the window wide, leave the fan on, and close the door. After 10 minutes, close the window and turn off the fan. This helps significantly to reduce moisture, and reduce mould.
Fight against the cold:
Be smart with curtains: Open your curtains when it’s sunny outside to make the most of passive solar heat. Close them when the sun goes down (or if it’s not sunny). This will reduce draughts and help keep your home warm and dry.
Heat more, but heat in a clever way: Some students refuse to use heaters until it’s really cold, and instead just layer up. This is reasonable, but doesn’t protect you from breathing in cold, damp air which could lead to potential chest infections and the like. If you keep your home at a consistently warm temperature (18-22 degrees as recommended by the World Health Organisation), and not just heat in a cold snap, you will stay warm and healthy through the colder periods, and your energy bills – and your health - won’t suffer.
We offer free home energy assessments through the WCC and UHCC home energy saver programme.