Staying warm this winter—snakes and layers

Staying warm this winter—snakes and layers

The warm sunshine of summer is well behind us and now we must face the stark reality of winter and how to combat it.

Wellington can seem colder than most, so here are a few city-specific tips that I’ve whipped up to help keep you warm on a budget:

Tip #1: Insulate

Your flat may not be fully insulated, but that shouldn’t stop you from making it warmer! Opening the curtains when the sun is shining in the morning will warm the air in the house and closing the curtains early before the sun goes down will help retain the heat for longer.

In winter months, snakes are your friend. Let me explain—I’m talking about door snakes. These are the long fabric “sausages” that sit under internal and external doors to stop draughts sneaking in and warm air sneaking out. These are easy to make out of rolled spare towels or blankets, or buy from The Warehouse, Briscoes and local supermarkets, who also sell cheap hot water bottles (under $10), which are a great alternative to an electric blanket.

Other ways to keep warm at night are flannel pyjamas, bed socks and multiple layers. Remember, multiple layers will keep you warmer than one thick layer!

Tip #2: Know thy heater!

Insulation makes heating more efficient and therefore cheaper to run. Heaters vary and it’s important to pick the right one for the space you’re trying to heat.

Fan heaters circulate hot air around the room quickly, but they can be expensive and noisy to run. Convection and oil column heaters often have thermostats, which means the heater will stop when it reaches a certain temperature setting which can save energy. Most electric heaters work best when heating up smaller spaces so keep doors closed, activate your door snakes and stay toasty.

Tip #3: Moisture—less is best

Damp houses make mouldy houses and mouldy houses can make you sick. A dry home is easier to heat and can keep you healthy. Here are some easy ways to minimise moisture:

  • Try not to dry clothes inside and ventilate your clothes drier
  • Get moisture absorbers for your wardrobes
  • Minimise shower length and open bathroom windows or use bathroom fans
  • Use an extractor fan in the kitchen and cover pans when cooking
  • Ventilate rooms in your flat everyday by opening windows and clean windows to prevent mould growing on frames and curtains
  • If you’re still struggling with dampness, invest in a dehumidifier


The take-home tip: Look after yourself and buy a raincoat

Living in a home that is cold and damp can affect your health and wellbeing. Spending a little extra time and money on heating and insulation is worth being well enough to concentrate and study during cold, wet periods. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you should stop taking care of yourself! If you do feel unwell or need financial support, make use of Victoria’s Student Health services and student financial advisers.

Finally, if you’ve been exposed to Wellington’s winds, you’ll know a sturdy raincoat, rather than an umbrella, is the best defence. If your raincoat seems to have “stopped” working, you can purchase re-waterproofing liquid to fix it.

For more advice on heating, insulation and energy efficiency, visit Energywise and stay dry out there!

Annemieke Hendriks is a Masters by Thesis student of the School of Biological Sciences.

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