Essentials to a Healthy Home
Maintaining a dry, healthy home is essential to keeping your children (and you!) healthy and warm. If your home is draughty, has excess moisture, is excessively cold, or lacks good air flow you may find things like asthma, bronchitis and other sicknesses increase in your home. Not only that, mould will grow on your walls, ceilings and clothes, eventually leading to rot.
1) Keep your Home Warm
The World Health Organisation recommends you keep your home at a minimum of 18 degrees celsius. Running a heater is not the only way to warm up your house, and the EECA Energywise website is a great place to look for help and ideas on how to warm up your home. Some of these ways include:
- Roof, wall and underfloor insulation. Insulating your home can be very expensive. The Community Energy Action charity provides funding and support for roof and underfloor insulation, so check them out first.
- Check for draughts, gaps and other ways your heating is escaping and block them. Buy draft stopping tape for doors with gaps. Look to replace single glazed windows with double glazed windows.
- Have your fire or air conditioning unit serviced. Your fire may need new fire bricks or the chimney cleaned to help it perform better. Your air conditioner may need the filters cleaned or other servicing.
- Good quality curtains are a huge help in keeping the warm in. Additional layers on your curtains will help keep the warm in, and ensuring your curtains drop all the way to the floor will stop the cold air behind the curtain circulating back into your room. Check out the Community Energy Action Curtain Bank for quality curtains cut and lined to fit your windows - for free!
2) Air your Home Out
It's estimated that the average household in New Zealand produces up to 8 litres of moisture in their homes every day! It is important that you remove that excess moisture from you home using good ventilation methods.
Even if your home is modern, airtight and is nice and warm, its still important to ventilate the old air out of the house and replace with fresh air.
There are several ways you can ventilate your home:
- Open windows. This is free and easy to do. Even in cold months, open your windows for at least 30 minutes a day. A good cross breeze is the best, so open a window in one room on one side of the house and others at different points to get the cross breeze circulating your air around and out. At night, or when you go to work, leave a couple windows on the smallest latch to keep fresh air circulating in.
- Install a good quality bathroom extraction fan in your bathroom, laundry, toilet or other places that generate moisture. A good ventilation system will quietly and efficiently remove both condensation and bad odours from your home. Ensure they are vented externally, not into your roof space.
- Install a good quality kitchen range hood to remove condensation, fumes and odours from your kitchen. Again, ensure it is vented externally, you don't want to trap all that moisture, fumes and odours in your roof cavity as it will lead to mould and rot in your roof space.
2) Keep your Home Dry
Moisture in your home is a huge cause for bronchitis and asthma in New Zealand. Good ventilation is essential for moving stale air and excess moisture out of your home and replacing it with fresh air.
The first step to drying out your home, is to identify signs of excess moisture in your home. Look for mould on curtains, on walls behind drawers and shelves, musty smells and mould stains or watermarks on ceilings.
There are several ways you can dry out your home:
- Run a dehumidifier or a whole home ventilation system.
- Run extractor fans in your bathroom, kitchen and other moisture-creating spaces.
- Open your windows and doors regularly.
- Keep your home warm with good insulation and proper heating.
- Avoid gas heaters in your home, unless they are vented outside.
- Avoid drying your washing inside.
- Keep your furniture at least 10cm from exterior walls to avoid mould growth.
- Leave your wardrobe doors slightly ajar to allow air circulation.
Watch this video to find ways you can effectively reduce dampness in your home.