Healthy home

Winter is here again so its time to get active... lots of fruit and vegetables to ward off Winter colds and 'flu. Have hot meals and hot drinks to keep your family warm and healthy and wrap up in layers of warm clothes to stay snug when you leave the house.

Keeping warm and dry

Keeping warm and healthy over winter

Why is it important to keep my home warm and dry?

It's important for your family's health that your house is warm and dry. Cold and damp homes are linked to poor health for older people.

How to heat your house

Only heat the room that you are in. Try and keep the temperature between 18 and 21 degrees.
Dress warmly for bed and make sure your bedroom is warm enough - it is very important to stay warm during the night.
Block up unused chimneys and stop draughts around doors and windows. You can make your own draught 'snakes' by stuffing rugby socks or pantyhose with newspaper or cushion filling.
Up to 20% of heating can be lost through draughts.
Open windows and curtains on sunny days, and close them when the sun goes down to trap heat in your home. Trim any trees that prevent sun entering your house (but if you are renting, remember to ask your landlord first!).

How to keep your home dry

A dehumidifier costs around $156 a year to run - these tips are cheaper and can be just as effective.

  • If you use an unflued gas heater (that is, one without a chimney), make sure that you use it safely. Research has shown that they can release gases which can be particularly dangerous for anyone with heart disease or asthma, pregnant women, young children and older people. If you have to use one, open a window and keep all internal doors open too. Use it only for short periods and never in bedrooms.
  • Try not to dry clothes indoors as this creates moisture in the air. Drying on the outside is free and the sunlight kills bacteria, making your clothes healthier for you and your family. Use a shed or garage if it is raining.
  • To reduce moisture caused by steam, always open a window when you are showering and when you are cooking on the stove top. Use pot lids to reduce the amount of steam escaping. Keep doors to bedrooms closed at these times as steam can make beds damp.
  • If you must use a clothes dryer, make sure your clothes are properly spun first and leave windows open while you are using it - or even better, vent it outside.

Making your home safer

Moss, rugs, power cords, chairs and puddles – these are just 5 of the many things responsible for more than 280,000 serious falls around New Zealand homes last year. Find out how to take action and fight the 5 – here are tips to avoid injuries and make your home safer!


Moss on outside steps, paths and decks can be very slippery. Water blast, scrub or spray these areas with moss removal products.
Cut trees and shrubs back to prevent shade – conditions which moss thrive in. Highlight step edges with painted strips. Light any dim outside areas. Build new decks with grooved timber. When painting decks use nonslip paint or a grit additive


Chairs aren’t ladders and are very unstable if you stand on them. Use a ladder or step ladder to reach high objects. Store heavy, regularly used objects down lower. Use long life smoke alarms and light bulbs so you don’t have to change them so often

Power cords

Snaking power cords, telephone wires and general clutter are easy to trip over. Get them out of harm’s way with cord clips, quick release power cords or multi-boxes. Secure any loose cords or wires to the wall. Tidy away general clutter. Use baskets and other storage systems


Wet areas are hazardous. Wipe up spills as soon as they happen with mops, sponges or cloths. Use nonslip bath and shower mats. Use floor mats to absorb any excess water. Install handrails to assist when getting out of the bath or shower. If renovating, install nonslip flooring in wet rooms (bathroom, kitchen and laundry).

Rugs and mats

Unsecured rugs and mats on floors and stairs can cause falls. Secure them with anti-slip tape or spray on a nonslip coating. Use carpet grips for mats. Repair damaged carpet on stairs. If you’re buying a new rug look for one with a nonslip backing. Wear shoes or slippers (rather than socks) on wooden floors.

Websites of interest

  • ENERGYWISE™ is the New Zealand Governments website that contains practical information and advice to help you make energy wise choices at home and on the road. Choosing to manage the way you use energy means you can have lower power bills, a warmer, healthier home and less of an impact on our environment. It also contains information on the new Warmer Kiwi Homes programme that will be offering grants from the 1 July 2018.
  • Try the Firstport Site - This site is for anyone looking for information, advice, support or equipment relating to disability in New Zealand.
  • BRANZ has resources available for a variety of people including architects, occupational therapists and housing officers on aspects of house design for people with physical and sensory disabilities, providing practical advice with technical drawings on entrances, windows, bathrooms, kitchens, floor finishes and surfaces, bedrooms, lifts, controls, safety.
  • Enable New Zealand manages health funding designated to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. They have a library with information on building accessible accommodation for people with disabilities, or planning ahead.
  • Good Homes for Good Lives - empowering housing decisions as we age
    This site is dedicated to people empowering older people's housing decisions. The Good Homes research focuses on helping older people to have safe, healthy and affordable homes which protect them in good and bad times, so they can stay in their own homes and communities for longer. The website includes a checklist to identify things that need repair, maintenance or are unsafe and information on how to manage and recover from adverse natural events eg flooding, snow etc.

Find your nearest Age Concern