Keeping warm on a cold day

Woolly socks keep the chills away while watching TV.
Woolly socks keep the chills away while watching TV.

Then the whining starts. "It's cold in here. Can I put the heater on?"

The reply from the cosy cook is terse. "No. Go and put a sweatshirt on, or a jersey. You've only go one layer on, and anyway, it's warm in here - I've had a curry in the oven for a couple of hours."

Somewhere along the way, we've forgotten the basics or haven't enforced them.

Our mothers and fathers knew them; so did our grandparents.

But the simple, logical ways to keep a body and home warm in June, July and August appear to have gone out with cassette tapes and VCRs.

We can Google it, talk about it with good friends over a hot cuppa and agree that our mothers were actually right (mostly), but we're not always doing it ourselves - or passing it on.

So, before turning on any heaters, take time to go through your warm-up checklist.

Some measures may take some forward thinking, others a good recipe and a bit of wool.

In your home, slow-cook a curry or casserole in the oven - it will warm up the hub of your house for a few hours.

Have knitted or crocheted blankets on hand to wrap up in front of the television or at your computer desk, or to throw on the bed. You can even have one at work if you feel the cold.

Even better, take up one of these woolly crafts at home to keep your knees warm as you click-clack.

Place a woollen underlay or blanket on top of your mattress.

Make sure all your curtains are thermal backed - you can buy them ready-made from Spotlight, The Warehouse and Briscoes (on sale, for sure!).

Pull the drapes as soon as it starts to get dark outside, to keep the warmth in.

Open the curtains in the morning to let the sun heat the house naturally. If you're building a new home, make sure you have lots of windows on the north-facing side and fewer on the south side.

Check that your window panes are in properly - they might need sealant to keep out breezes.

Get your wooden French doors fitting properly, because they're big heat leakers.

You also need a snake to stop the breeze blowing under the front or back door. But your elongated cloth doorstopper needs to be fairly heavy, otherwise it will be whipped out of place by a wicked westerly or stinging southerly.

Insulation is an absolute must. Get all ceiling and wall cavities insulated, and also under wooden floors. Make sure you check out the government subsidies.

If you can afford it, get double glazing for your windows or single-glazed low-E glass, which has a coating that absorbs or reflects sunlight.

When you're heading outside, dress properly.

Wear thermal underwear; it can be sexy. Honest.

Pull on a merino or other woollen jersey. For extra layers indoors, wrap yourself in a shawl. You're sure to find something gypsy-creative at the Hospice Shop or another second-hand store. Blokes, try a man cardigan or a hoodie.

Throw on a scarf, and bang on a beanie. Remember gloves? Try fingerless ones to keep your hands toasty while tapping on computer keyboards.

A message for teenagers: incredible as this may sound, there are such things as raincoats. For the uninitiated, these are waterproof outer garments that keep the rain off so you can walk or bike (guffaw) to school and stay relatively dry. You can also wear them while waiting for buses or running between classrooms when it's pouring down.

Invest in some woollen socks or hand-knitted booties. The socks look good, and you can pretend you're Peter Pan in the booties, but only if you choose green ones. You'll find these at many charity shops, because the women who run them know how to clack those needles and shake their booties.

When you get out of the bath or shower and put on your snug nightwear, put on a dressing gown or you'll cool down quickly.

Warm your bed with a wheat pack or hot water bottle before climbing in. You know you want to cover your hottie in a teddy or kiwi soft toy to nurture your inner child. Go even wilder and splash out on an adult onesie, with feet and a back flap for warmer toilet stops. Best of all, go for a superhero or animal theme. Imagine what some of our more well- known Kiwis might choose - Dan Carter in a Superman onesie, Gin Wigmore in a tiger suit, and John Key dressed up as a sheep.

Speaking of which, the ultimate Kiwi winter winner is the Ugg boot. They may look ugly (no offence to the boot, honestly), but they are the toastiest, most comfortable slippers, and they have outdoor soles for wearing to the letterbox (not the supermarket). But who hasn't jumped in the car for a quick child pickup wearing their "mother uggers" and received a desperate "we need milk" text on the way home?

It could be worse - you might also have your ridiculous rabbit onesie on, too. I know - I've seen you at the supermarket. Or it could have been a reflection in the front windows. . .

Let's look at some quick facts, mostly found on the Smarter Homes website.

1. The sun falling on a square metre of window produces one kilowatt of heat every hour, the same as a one-bar heater.

2. BRANZ research has shown that retrofitting ceiling insulation into an uninsulated Wellington house (150 square metres) would pay for itself in four years. After 20 years, it will have provided a net benefit of over $3000.

3. A Wellington School of Medicine study found that people living in insulated homes had fewer medical and hospital visits for respiratory conditions, and fewer days off work and school.

4. In a 2006 survey of people living in homes retrofitted with insulation, 38 per cent reported health benefits such as a reduced incidence of asthma among children.

5. According to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, about 45 per cent of New Zealand homes suffer from moisture problems. The health problems associated with high moisture levels include asthma, eczema and headaches.

6. Moulds are nasty. They can cause allergic reactions, asthma, nosebleeds and a range of other symptoms. Wipe up leaks or spills, because the resulting greenish- black stachybotrys mould is toxic.

7. Wearing a hat can keep you warmer, but not as toasty as we have been led to believe. In 2008, researchers from Indiana University in Indianapolis debunked the belief that most of our body heat is lost through the head. According to their tests, it's only 10 per cent - and you'd lose just as much heat if you weren't wearing trousers.

Taranaki Daily News