Balancing Time and Money to Ensure a Healthy Home

Editor’s note: Here is another weekly article in the Wanganui Chronicle. 

About a month ago, the same Saturday edition of the Chronicle contained a pair of insightful columns depicting two sides of the same coin: time and money. One columnist shared her decision to return to fulltime work and how that would impact on the time she had for other things, while another columnist who is on a benefit complained of the opposite: not enough money to renew her driver’s license.

I have no idea how fellow columnists spend their time and money nor do I care. The point is that the old saying “time is money” appears truer today than ever. At work we trade our time for money and when we hire someone to do a job we don’t want to do we trade our money for ‘free time’. When we go out on the town we trade our money for ‘a good time.’ We might even hear Cyndi Lauper on the radio singing “Time After Time.”

In today’s society, time and money appear to be the primary assets and everything else flows from them. The same is true when renovating a home. If you have heaps of time and little money there is a lot you can accomplish along the lines of what we have done. On the other hand, if you work full-time and hire someone to do the renovations, chances are they will be more skilled and get the job done faster than you could.

In both cases, however, the utmost attention should be paid to creating the conditions for a healthy home. When it comes to maintaining healthy indoor temperatures there are two main factors: generating heat and holding heat inside.

The World Health Organization recommends 18 -22 degrees in living areas of a home and 16-18 degrees in bedrooms. The best way to maintain these conditions is to have adequate insulation and an efficient heat source.

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Baby Manu is always well insulated. 

Adequate insulation can mean many things to many people, but in the coming weeks I will explain the best levels of insulation for the ceiling and under the floor, along with what to aim for with windows and glass doors. Today I’ll focus on what heaters give you best value for money and which do not.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has a programme called Energywise (www.energywise.govt.nz) that provides excellent independent advice on everything from which tyres will give your car its best fuel economy to which heaters are best and why. Next week I’ll work through each type of heater, their strong points and their drawbacks. But for now I’ll group them into three categories: always; sometimes; never.

Always: According to Energywise, “For rooms that you use regularly it is well worth investing in suitable, fixed heaters which enable you to heat them effectively and cheaply. Clean, effective forms of heating include modern wood and wood-pellet burners, ENERGY STAR® qualified heat pumps and high star-rated, flued gas heaters.”

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Our modern wood burner almost installed. 

Sometimes: “For rooms that only get used occasionally, for short periods of time, electric heaters which are cheap to buy but slightly more expensive to run can often be sufficient. There are different types to suit different needs.”

Never: For both economic and health reasons, the use of unflued gas heaters (natural or LPG) should be avoided.

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Don’t do it!

According to EECA:

  • unflued LPG heaters are the most expensive form of heating (except for some open fires)
  • there are health risks – it will pollute air with toxic gases and large amounts of water vapour, so you must keep at least one window open when it is in use and never use it in bedrooms
  • they can make your home damp.
  • portable LPG heaters can be a fire risk, as anything too close can catch fire quickly.

As with the trade-offs between time and money, there are trade-offs with each type of “suitable, fixed heaters” as listed by EECA above. Next Saturday we’ll examine them.

Peace, Estwing

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