Now that winter has well and truly arrived, it’s time to get your home sorted so that - no matter how chilly it gets outside - you and your family stay warm, dry and healthy.
To make things easier, Homestar has developed Home Health Check Month - four weeks’ worth of daily tips and simple steps you can take to make your home warmer and healthier, and reduce your impact on the environment. The tips are based around weekly themes: energy, health and comfort; water efficiency; waste; and safety at home.
Safe as houses
Our homes are the place we feel safest. But are there risks and hazards you’re unaware of? More people are injured at home than anywhere else in New Zealand, according to ACC. Certain chemicals in building materials and products need good management to reduce any health risk. And simple changes will make our houses more useable and accessible, so they’re ‘future-proofed’ and able to accommodate people of all ages and abilities.
Want to make your home safer? Our five simple suggestions this week will show you how:
• Monday - check your paths for cracks, slippery surfaces and vegetation.
• Tuesday - check or install smoke alarms.
• Wednesday - make stairs and steps as safe as possible.
• Thursday - renovating? Consider handles, doorways, entry-level shower.
• Friday - decorating? Choose low-VOC products.
There will be posts each day this week on the Homestar website and Homestar Facebook page with more information on how you can cut down on waste.
Free Eco Design advice
In addition to the Homestar Home Health Checks, Auckland Council also offers several services that can help you ensure your home is healthy and winterproof.
The council's free Eco Design Advisor service aims to incorporate sustainable design into new homes, extensions and retrofits. It's a one-stop shop that works with homeowners, builders, designers and the trade, by helping them build healthy, energy-efficient, water-efficient houses, with better indoor environmental quality, lower-impact materials and less waste.
For Auckland residents or designers, up to two hours of tailored, impartial information and advice is available for free. This time can be made up of any combination of meetings on site, at the council, the designer's or your premises, and email or phone time. Visit the Eco Design site for more information.
Retrofit your home
If your home insulation or heating need to be improved and you meet the eligibility criteria, through the Retrofit Your Home Programme you can apply to have this cost added to your rates and with repayments spread over nine years.
The Retrofit Your Home Programme allows homeowners who are up to date with their rates to access up to $5000 financial assistance to be used for home retrofit interventions including ceiling and underfloor insulation, heat pumps or efficient wood burners, fire place removal, water tank installation, water saving devices or mechanical extraction in kitchens and bathrooms.
Visit the Retrofit Your Home page for more information.
The Eco Design Advisor service was initiated by BRANZ Ltd in 2006 and is available in eight council areas. There is a full explanation of the service and contact details for other EDAs along with details on training events, presentations and factsheets at the Eco Design website.
Visit the Smarter Homes website to find a wealth of information sustainable design for residential renovation or new building in NZ.
Finally, you can now have your new or existing home rated by a new residential rating tool. Go to the Homestar website or contact your local EDA to book help with filling out this online questionnaire.