Is your home properly insulated? 9 top tips to stay warm this winter

Article by: Eco Mailbox


Ask an expert with Sustainability Trust 

Whether you’re a tenant or a homeowner, it’s not always easy to tell why your home is cold, and what you can do about it. All you know is that it’s winter again, you’ve got three jumpers on and you’re dreading the next electricity bill…

Often the first place to start is insulation. Homes with no (or poorly fitted) insulation can lose up to 35% of heat and energy through the ceiling. That means the warmth from your heating is being wasted – and the money you spent to heat it too.

For 15 years we have provided advice and solutions to create warm, dry and energy efficient homes in our community. The two questions we hear the most are:

  1. My house isn’t insulated – what are my options?
  2. My house has some insulation but it’s still cold – what should I do?

Sound familiar? Here are our top tips when considering installing or upgrading insulation to make your home warmer and more energy efficient.

  1. Fit – insulation needs to be installed in all accessible areas, free from any gaps, rips or damage, and not touching the building paper. Heat and energy will escape out of any uninsulated space, so a comprehensive fit is key.(See the NZS4246:2016 for best practise and our install standards.)
  2. Old or poor quality insulation settles, thinning like an old blanket. If the insulation in your ceiling is less than 200mm thick (or more than 10 years old) it probably needs a top-up.
  3. Foil underfloor insulation – should be replaced with bulk insulation because it loses its reflective properties and thermal value over time.
  4. Light fittings – traditional downlights get so hot they are unsafe to insulate over. This means there are either large gaps in insulation (that heat and energy escape out of) or that existing insulation gets heat damage, and cannot perform properly. Where possible people should opt for insulation-coverable light fittings such as LED downlights, so that a consistent thermal envelope can be achieved.
  5. Using the attic space – when insulation gets damaged or compressed it cannot perform properly. If the attic needs to be used for storage or accessed, a flooring and storage system like Attic Islands protect insulation against compression and provides a solid platform to walk and store on.
  6. Water damage – when insulation gets wet it cannot perform properly. Fibreglass insulation is especially vulnerable to water damage and difficult to remove once it’s wet. Check and watch out for roof leaks, making sure to fix them before getting new insulation installed. (Polyester is naturally moisture resistant).
  7. Pests and vermin – rats and mice like to live in fibreglass insulation, and can cause irreparable damage. Block entry points, use traps, check regularly and repair/replace as required. (Polyester is naturally insect and vermin resistant).
  8. R-value – the thermal performance (R value) of insulation depends on the material, brand, fit, age and quality, alongside factors about the building itself – age, position, materials etc. A professional insulation installer company (such as ourselves) should be able to calculate the R value of what you have currently and what is needed to get it up to the recommended levels.
  9. DIY – if you choose to install the insulation yourself, make sure you follow the instructions included with the product you buy. Insulation will need to be installed to the current NZ Standard (4246:2016) to be compliant with Residential Tenancies Act if it is installed in a rental property. Correctly installing insulation is a tricky business and potentially dangerous or ineffective if you don’t know what you’re doing. Make sure you understand what you’re doing before heading into the ceiling or underfloor.

We hope that helps! Download this infosheet for a simple summary of our top tips.

Check back again soon for more energy efficiency advice. Next time, we’ll give you some tips about how to save money on home insulation costs.

To discuss any of the above in more detail, call Sustainability Trust  on 0508 78 78 24, option 1 or click here to book an assessment from one of our home insulation experts.

Related articles:

How to get cheap home insulation – government funding, council rates loans, repayment plans
Natural ventilation – 7 tips to make a healthier home, for free



Article by: Eco Mailbox


Just like that, the holidays are nearly over and the new school year is about to begin. There can be a lot to think about and organise for each child that is going back to school so we’re sharing these top 7 eco friendly back to school tips to help you keep the process sustainable and eco friendly with minimal waste!!

Thanks to Green Elephant Market Place  (a great local online store for shopping favourite products ) here is 7 Eco friendly back to school tips to help kick off the new school year right.

1. Do a Stationery Stock Take

Get the school stationery lists from the school website or office. Instead of buying a whole new set every year, go through your cupboards and see what you already have that can be used. You’d be surprised at the number of glue sticks and sharpies that can accumulate….!!

2. Use Books Until they are Full

Our children often come home at the end of a year with exercise books that have at least half of the pages still blank. Instead of automatically buying a new book, just draw a line under the last piece of work and write the new school year, room and teacher underneath. You can buy a new book if and when it’s needed.

3. Mend Uniform

Buying a whole new set of uniforms is expensive. See if your school has a second hand shop or trade with friends who might have older children with uniform going spare. If you have uniform that’s looking past it’s best, think about doing a bit of sewing, mending those holes or patching thinning ‘bum’ areas!! This could save you lots of money.

4. Get set up for Litterless Lunches

Litterless lunches means avoiding anything disposable in the lunchboxes. For example, snack wrappers, crisp packets, yogurt pots, pouches etc. If your lunch box is regularly filled with packets, try changing out just one item with something unpackaged. Maybe give your child a few crackers instead of an individual packet of crisps..?? Buying in bulk and then portioning out snacks each day is much cheaper and saves all that packaging. Home baking is also a great litter free option.

For the main event, try to avoid disposable single use plastic wrap. There are lots of better alternatives including beeswax food wraps, reusable sandwich bags and snack packs from Kai Carrier and cute lunch baggies from MUNCH NZ.

5. Choose Hard Wearing, BPA Free Lunchboxes and Water Bottles

A good quality lunch box and water bottle that is free from BPA or harmful chemicals that can leach into your food and drink is a great investment. Stainless steel is a good option and Meals in Steel have a selection of sizes to choose from. Alternatively, a hard wearing and insulated lunch bag is a great option – especially for summer. Munch do an excellent one, but don’t take our word for it. View the full range of lunchboxes, bags and water bottles over on the marketplace.

6. Use the School Walking Bus or Get on Your Bike

Green up your child’s commute and get involved in the school walking bus or teach them how to cycle safely to school. This is a great way to cut down on using your car, especially if the journey is short. It’s great exercise for your kids and you too if you join them….!!!

7. Use a Natural Sunscreen

It’s important to keep your child safe when they’re in the sun at playtime. This is especially important during terms one and four. Most schools offer lots of shaded areas but not all play areas can be in the shade. If they like playing on the field or going for a swim it’s important that they have sunscreen applied thoroughly. Try a natural sunscreen that is based on a mineral like zinc oxide and choose one that doesn’t contain artificial fragrances, parabens or Vitamin A.

Whether you follow one or all of our eco friendly back to school tips, you’ll be doing yourself, your wallet and the planet a big favour. What’s not to love…??!!

Merge Cafe’s Socks for Souls Initiative

Article by: Eco Mailbox

Amongst all the quirk and flare of Auckland’s Karangahape Road, is Merge Cafe, a cafe with a mission to support those in need. Operated by the not-for-profit charity, Lifewise, they have created a unique space to bring together “those who are hungry and those who hunger to make a difference”.

Here’s a place you can have your caffeine fix, while doing good at the same time.

Recently, Lifewise Merge Cafe has launched  the Socks for Souls initiative, with support from the New Zealand menswear store, Barkers.

From the 27th of September- October 13th with every 3 coffees purchased at Lifewise Merge with the coffee card, they will donate a pair of Barker’s socks to a person in need.

For more information about Socks for Souls, checkout the Facebook event

Prior to Merge Cafe, the establishment was a well-known soup kitchen, serving over 40,000 meals a year to Auckland’s homeless people since 1885.

In 2010, Lifewise made the decision to shut the soups kitchen doors and try out a new approach. Merge cafe opened in its place, an innovative approach seeking to solve the problem rather than nurturing it.

There are a number of ways you can help, from the Socks for Soul initiate, and various pay it forward meal scheme.

Merge Cafe hopes to break the barriers of marginalisation, connecting and welcoming people of all backgrounds, regardless of their social or economic status.

Here at Ecomailbox, we love hearing about the contributions businesses are doing for the community.  ‘Good on Ya ‘ Lifewise Merge Cafe for your efforts in helping those in need.  Visit their website  Lifewise Merge Cafe for more info and ways you can support!