Saving money on heating costs in winter

08 Dec 09 / Posted by: Jessica

If you’re used to spending winter shivering under your duvet in a double pair of socks, Icebreaker, and hot water bottle, blame your ancestors.

The uninsulated houses they were so fond of building mean that most Kiwi homes have an average indoor temperature of just 16C in winter – well below the minimum 18C recommended by the World Health Organization. Not only is that uncomfortable, but cold houses have other costs too – dampness and mould can lead to a range of respiratory and other illnesses, especially in children and the elderly.

Fortunately, near-hypothermia is no longer the only cost-effective option – follow our tips to keep your home toasty warm without burning through your life savings.


Take advantage of the New Zealand Government’s current ENERGYWISE™ funding scheme and insulate! The scheme provides grants of up to $1,800 for ceiling and under floor insulation or clean heating devices such as heat pumps and approved wood burners. Best of all it’s available to everyone with a house built before 2000, regardless of income, and Holders of Community Service Cards are eligible for additional funding. To find out more visit

Use summer to your advantage

To save even more money, shop for insulation and heating appliances in summer when they’re on special.

House warming basics

Check to make sure you have all the other basics covered: a hot water cylinder wrap, pipe lagging, draught-stopping, and a ground moisture barrier are all relatively cheap improvements which can make a huge difference to the warmth of your home. Also look at your roof – recessed downlights allow warm air to be ducted into the ceiling cavity and escape, so consider replacing them.

Heat your living spaces first

Concentrate on heating living spaces first – bedrooms only need enough heat to take the chill off them. Close doors to other rooms to keep the heat where you need it most.

Use timers when possible

Choose heating appliances with a thermostat or timer so you can time the heating for when you need it most – just before you arrive home or wake up in the morning.

What to avoid

Avoid unflued LPG heaters – while cheap to buy they are actually comparatively expensive to run and should only be used with good ventilation. For most of us, that means opening a window, which just lets the cold air back in.

Energy efficiency

Turn heaters off at the wall when you’re not using them and choose energy-efficient appliances with the highest possible number of stars on the energy rating label.

Indoor laundry

Once you’ve heated a room, make the greatest use of the energy by drying your clothes there too. We put all our laundry on a drying rack in the same room as our heat pump overnight and the clothes are dry by morning – we no longer have to use our dryer at all.

Further heating information on saving money on heating bills can be found at:

What heating tips do you have?

Share with us how you save money on heating bills and costs.

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