How to stay warm with­out burn­ing through your cash

A five-step guide to keep­ing cozy, wealthy and warm this win­ter.

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE -

It must be al­most win­ter. I know this be­cause my dad has grudg­ingly re­tired his stub­bies, and hardly any­one gave me the side-eye when I wore my Kmart Ugg boots to the su­per­mar­ket.

Our house­hold is too proud to put the heater on yet, but it’s only a mat­ter of time un­til some­one cracks.

Stay­ing warm is an ex­pen­sive busi­ness in New Zealand. We not only have some of the world’s high­est power prices, but a damp and drafty hous­ing stock with hardly any in­su­la­tion – the relic of a by­gone era when fuel was cheap and plen­ti­ful.

Here are some prac­ti­cal strate­gies to get you through win­ter with­out burn­ing through a mas­sive pile of cash.


Crank­ing up the heat is fu­tile when most of it es­capes through the walls and ceil­ings. Retrofitting in­su­la­tion costs sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars, but there are grants avail­able for low-in­come folks. Start­ing from July, an even more gen­er­ous sub­sidy will cover two-thirds of the cost of ceil­ing and un­der­floor in­su­la­tion, as well as ground vapour bar­ri­ers.

If you’re rent­ing, ask your land­lord to get on it – they have to com­ply with new laws by next year, any­way, so they might as well beat the rush. If you’re a land­lord, please be a de­cent hu­man be­ing and give your ten­ants a warm and healthy home.


Seal up open fire­places, put draught-stop­pers along the bot­tom of doors, plug any gaps and make sure you have lined cur­tains. In most parts of the coun­try, there are ‘‘cur­tain banks’’ where strug­gling fam­i­lies can get help for free. Dou­ble-glazed win­dows might be out of the ques­tion but hard­ware stores sell stick-on plas­tic in­su­lat­ing kits that do a de­cent job. Al­ter­na­tively, you can just put bub­blewrap over your win­dows. Yes, it’s ugly. No, no-one should have to do this. But it works.


At the risk of stat­ing the bleed­ing ob­vi­ous, put more clothes on. Trap­ping heat close to your skin makes a huge dif­fer­ence. A pair of ther­mal base lay­ers from The Ware­house only costs $20, and gives you the equiv­a­lent boost in warmth of turn­ing the heat pump up by 4 de­grees.


If you’re lucky enough to own a wood­burner, and they haven’t been banned yet in your area, go scout­ing for free fuel. Af­ter the re­cent storms, the hills were alive with the sounds of chain­saws. Sacks of pine cones also make for good burn­ing, as does drift­wood from rivers (not the sea).


123RF The cheap­est way to stay warm is to point a small ra­di­ant heater straight at you. If you want to heat a whole room and be able to move around, con­vec­tion heat is a bet­ter choice. Keep the doors closed, and don’t heat parts of the house that aren’t be­ing used. A re­view into elec­tric­ity prices is un­der­way. Su­per­an­nu­ants and ben­e­fi­cia­ries will start re­ceiv­ing the new Win­ter En­ergy Pay­ment from July, which is also when the new round of in­su­la­tion sub­si­dies be­gin. By 2019, the grants will also be ex­tended to heat­ing ap­pli­ances, and in­su­la­tion stan­dards will come into force for rental prop­er­ties.

It might be cold com­fort right now, but things are def­i­nitely mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

In the mean­time, fo­cus on the el­e­ments within your con­trol and stay healthy and warm this win­ter. Got a burn­ing money ques­tion? Email Bud­get Buster at richard.mead­[email protected]­, or hit him up on Face­book, where you can also find links to pre­vi­ous Bud­get Busters.

Wrap up warm and stick the fire on – but don’t burn through your sav­ings.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.