Winter is Coming and New Zealand Homes are Dank and Full of Draughts

Welcome to the latest in our series of Migrant Tales, first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand taken from place around the net.

Winter is coming. An Antarctic weather bomb is hitting much of the country over the next week so we thought this would be a good time to highlight the problems, and the solutions, of the typical New Zealand home during the long winter months.

Today’s tale was published recently on an emigration forum, it was written by a British person.

We moved into a 90s brick and tile in Pommie-moa, the agent laughed when I asked about heating and said we didn’t need it because it never got really cold. If there was a god, he’d have stuck her down with lightening for looking me in the face and telling that lie!

In the winter, it got so cold – you could lie in bed in the morning and see your breath on the air. I used to sleep in fleece pjs and a Wolfskin fleece I used to wear horse riding in the snow back in UK.

We suffered more illness in 18 months there, than 20 years collectively. My kids were constantly ill with chest infections and colds, the whole family got bronchitis – and every week, I used to pick a room and just go hard with regard to cleaning the mould from the window frames,blinds and back of furniture. i’d rotate weekly, so that no room ever went longer than 9 weeks without a good scrub. BUT, it was a miserable way to spend days off, and I’ve probably caused who knows what damage to my respiratory system with the bleach and chemical fumes I inhaled.

Once our lease was up, we moved into an older wooden house which was insulated in the roof (but you can see daylight through the gaps in the floor – so lots of carpets and rugs) but it has a wet back, HRV and solar hot water.

We still run our dehumidifiers 24/7, but the wetback and solar save us over $100 a month in the summer, and $250 a month in the winter.

Even with the floor issues, it’s dry and warmer than the old house.

I made super heavy, triple lined curtains which are too long (no gaps at the floor) and we’ve put econo heaters up in the bedrooms and bathrooms (11c an hour to run, and they have timers – $88 each from warehouse).

The children haven’t been ill once since moving here, I haven’t had to clean mould off anything – and we’re all a lot more comfortable and happier as a consequence.

We’ve just purchased the house from the L/L, so flat broke and no money to do anything, however next summer – we’ll insulate under the floors and also look at a wool insulation which can be piped into the walls.

If we were ever renting again, we’d stay away from brick and tile unless it was built after 2010 (but even then check that it has insulation)

We wouldn’t consider anything without a wood burner, unless it was a new house with double glazing and insulation.

The extra you would pay in rent, you more than make up for in health and comfort. (IMO)

You do have to take into account the cost of wood, but you can buy cheaper in the summer and store it yourself. You’ll pay a lot more for wood in the winter, especially wood that has been cut a year before, because it burns hotter and lasts longer.

We’ve gotten pretty good with the fire – we’re rural and some of the local farmers have pointed us in the right direction with choice of woods. We can get the thing really hot, then turn it down so it burns slowly all night. Gives us a toasty house in the morning and free hot water.

If you can find a way to heat your home efficiently so that you’re comfortable and you keep mould and illness at bay, it makes an enormous difference to your happiness and well being.

I never realised how awful life is, when your home becomes a place of dread and every family member hates being there.We actually used to go outside and find things to do because it was warmer – I think this may be the reason the kiwis like outdoors so much!

Apologies for ramble, I wouldn’t want anyone else to make the same mistakes we did. It’s an expensive way to learn the lesson.

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