Category Archives: Health & Wellbeing

creating a sustainable home

Getting your insulation right is critical to creating a sustainable home

It seems global warming is on everyone’s minds these days. We’re launching reusable rockets into space, all our vehicles are becoming electric powered and governments around the world are invested in developing renewable energy sources. New Zealanders are slowly moving away from traditional energy sources such as gas and coal and moving more to sustainable and renewable ones such as solar.

Over the next decade most of us will change to electric vehicles and many of our household tools like lawn mowers and weed eaters will be replaced with battery operated alternatives. While all this innovation is great, New Zealand households are going to be looking for ways to create energy efficient, sustainable home’s.

What is a sustainable home anyway?

A sustainable home is designed or retrofitted to optimise it’s use of water and energy. The obvious advantage of a sustainable home is a significant reduction in energy consumption, but by making these changes you’re also making a contribution to improving the environment. By replacing older inefficient systems with new low-impact and high-performance materials, you help to create a healthier environment for yourself, your family and our planet.

With this in mind – here are 5 things you can do to retrofit your house into a sustainable home.

Reevaluate your home’s insulation

Until recently, insulation standards in New Zealand have been pretty poor. Having a high-performing thermal envelope around your home is key to creating a energy efficient, sustainable home. If there is little or no insulation in your roof and walls, any effort you put into heating and cooling your home easily escapes through gaps in your thermal envelope.

Talk to an insulation professional like CosyWall Insulation. We’d be happy to give you advice on what you could do to seal your thermal envelope and improve the insulation standards of your property.

Install Solar Panels

It’s getting easier and cheaper to install solar panels to your home. With the right setup, you can generate all the power you need for your home and lifestyle. Kiwi’s that can power their homes with clean energy means that you’re lowering your carbon footprint and avoiding fossil fuels.

Upgrade your appliances to energy efficient ones

Appliance manufacturers have got really good at creating low energy, efficient appliances. Dishwashers, dryers and fridges all use a lot of power, especially the older ones. If you are upgrading, make sure you look for the energy rating stickers on the front of these appliances when deciding what to buy.

Install high-performance windows for a sustainable home

Windows can account for up to 50% of your homes heat losses. High-performance windows make a huge difference in lowering your heating and cooling bills. New technologies like double glazing, special coatings and better construction methods mean new joinery performances much better today and helps you out on your journey to creating a sustainable home.

Change out those old light bulbs to new LED lights.

This goes without saying but LED technology is over 90% more efficient that older lightbulbs. The small investment in upgrading the lights in your pales in comparison to the future savings you’ll make from having your house running on LEDs.

If you’d like to know more about creating a sustainable home, the team at CosyWall Insulation would be happy to help. Give us a call if you’ve got any questions, we’d love to hear from you!

black mould in home

Understand what causes black mould and what you can do about it

Mould is a form of fungus which can be black, white, orange, green or purple. They are small organisms that can live almost anywhere indoors or outdoors and reproduces lightweight spores that travel through the air.

Most of us are exposed to small, harmless amounts of mould every day, however, when these little spores land on a damp spot in your home, it can start to grow. Prolonged exposure or exposure in high amounts can lead to serious health issues.

Health issues caused by mould

Many people are unaware that black mould can cause health issues. When mould is found in high levels inside your home it can cause allergies, lead to asthma attacks and in severe cases even lead to respiratory infections. The deadliest mould is called Stachybotrys which is more commonly referred to as “black mould”. This is one of the most dangerous types of mould and can cause flu-like symptoms, diarrhoea, headaches, memory loss and severe respiratory damage.

How does black mould grow?

For black mould to grow indoors, it needs moisture and food. Black mould tends to thrive in warm and frequently moist environments such as your kitchens and bathrooms. Moisture is a key factor influencing mould growth indoors. Controlling indoor moisture can dramatically help to limit its growth. Moisture control is crucial as, in the right conditions, mould can begin to grow indoors in as short as 24 to 48 hours. One of the best ways to control moisture in your home is to fully insulate it, ensuring its thermal envelope is sealed. While most people have wall and floor insulation, typical New Zealand houses lack wall insulation. Uninsulated walls can easily let moisture into your home.

Black Mould does not need a lot of water to grow. A little condensation in a bathroom or around your windows can be enough for mould to start growing. Common sites for indoor mould growth include bathroom tiles and grout, the corners of your walls, areas around windows, near leaky plumbing, and around sinks. The most common causes of moisture in your home include roof leaks, condensation due to high humidity, poor insulation, cold spots in a building, or leaks in plumbing fixtures.

Besides moisture, mould also needs food in the form of nutrients to grow. Mould can grow on virtually any organic substance. Most buildings are full of organic materials that mould can use as food, including many building materials and household furnishings.

What can you do to avoid mould growth in your home?

Weather conditions in New Zealand widely vary between the summer and winter months making it difficult to control moisture and condensation.

One of the best ways to control moisture in your home is to fully insulate it, ensuring its thermal envelope is sealed. While most people have roof and floor insulation, typical New Zealand houses lack wall insulation and uninsulated walls can easily let moisture into your home.

CosyWall Insulation is an excellent insulation product that can be installed in virtually any New Zealand home. It is blown into the wall through small holes from either the inside or the outside of the home which are then patched up following the installation so you’ll never know the process was done. You will instantly notice a much more stable inside temperature which, among the many other benefits, will help you control the moisture inside the home. Controlling moisture in your home will in turn help prevent black mould in the future.

Contact the team at CosyWall Insulation today for a free assessment of your home.

Condensation issues in your home

How to fix condensation issues in my home?

If you have been living in your home a little while you may have noticed that parts of your home’s walls get very damp. This is usually because of condensation issues in your home and is usually a good indication that your home’s walls are not well insulated. If damp or wet walls are not addressed quickly, this can lead to mould developing inside the home which in turn can damage your walls and furniture and seriously affect the health and wellbeing of your family. In this article, we are going to look at what causes condensation and steps you can take to deal with the issue.

What causes condensation in my home?

Condensation starts to occur when warm air and cold air meet. It can also occur when there is a lot of humidity in the air and not enough ventilation. It is most evident in the winter months and is usually a result of your efforts to keep your house warm. Everyday activities such as cooking, showering, and drying clothes can also release moisture into the air which can also lead to condensation issues in the home.

For older New Zealand homes, there may be many breaks in your home’s thermal barrier which allows air in and out of your home. When the inside warm air starts mixing with the outside cold air it cools down quickly, releasing the water molecules from the air. These turn into liquid droplets that attach themselves to cold surfaces such as your walls and develops into condensation.

Condensation tends to be less of an issue during the summer months as we are always opening the windows and doors to let fresh air in therefore keeping the home ventilated. In the winter months, we typically keep all the windows and doors closed so the cold air doesn’t come inside but, if the house isn’t well ventilated, this can cause condensation issues to quickly develop. While most houses have extractor fans in the bathrooms, these small fans are usually not enough to keep the entire house ventilated and when the outside air temperature starts to drop you can start to notice damp and wet walls.

While a little bit of water may not sound like a major issue, if left unattended, it can create the perfect environment for black mould to grow which can lead to several health issues including respiration problems, skin rashes and sore or itchy eyes.

What can you do to fix condensation issues in the home?

Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to fix your condensation problems and ensure that your home’s thermal envelope is closed. The first thing you want to do is prevent the outside air getting into your home. There could be several weak points in your home contributing to this issue including:

  • Gaps around the windows and doors in your home
  • Poor insulation in your walls, underfloor or roof
  • Leaks in your roof
  • Damage to your homes cladding
  • Poor ventilation in your home

If there is damage to your home and it is not weathertight these issues need to be immediately addressed. Leaving your home exposed to New Zealand’s harsh climate for extended periods of time can lead to an expensive repair bill and numerous health issues.

You could also invest in better extractor fans and/or a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air however, in most situations the underlying issue related to condensation build-up is either poor or no insulation.

Insulating your home is the single best thing you can do for your family’s health and wellbeing and in New Zealand, homes usually only have the minimum standards of insulation. When we inspect most homes, we find that there is a little bit of insulation in the roof and under the floor but usually no insulation in the walls. Insulation is designed to provide a barrier that keeps the outside air temperature out and the inside temperature in. If the walls are not well insulated, all your heating efforts are easily lost through the walls. By insulating your walls, you are helping to close your home’s thermal envelope and helping to permanently fix condensation issues in your home.

Insulation products like CosyWall Insulation can be easily blown into the walls of your home without having to remove the linings. It is pumped into the walls through small holes which are patched up after the installation so you will never know the process was done. Additionally, because it is blown in at such a high density, it will never shrink or slump inside the walls and with a 50-year durability rating, the insulation will last the life of the home.

Talk to the team at CosyWall Insulation today about organising a free home assessment for your property.

Keep my family healthy

How to keep my family healthy this winter

Winter is coming and no doubt you are wanting to keep your family healthy and well! In this article, we cover a few ways you can prepare your home for the winter and ensure you avoid those viruses!

Good insulation and an efficient heating system can go a long way in keeping your home warm and dry and your family healthy.

Insulate to keep your home warm and reduce your energy bills!

Insulation is a great solution for keeping your house dry and healthy and, overall, comfortable to live in. An uninsulated house can lead to many health issues caused by mould growth, condensation and dampness. Fully insulating your home ensures your thermal envelope is closed. This means your home will be easier to heat in the winter and will help reduce your overall energy bills.

While most homes have insulation in the ceiling or floors, many New Zealand homes do not have adequate wall insulation. A lack of wall insulation can account for over 33% of your home’s energy loss so it is important to address this issue. A blown or injected insulation product like CosyWall Insulation is easy to install and doesn’t require the removal of linings.

Keep your home moisture-free

A damp home can be bitterly cold in the winter and lead to several health issues for your family. Too much moisture in your home can cause damage to your floor coverings and walls and can even damage your furniture and clothes. Make every effort to eliminate moisture from your home by following these simple steps.

  • Dry your washing on a clothesline when you can
  • If you have to use a dryer, make sure it is vented outside.
  • Have shorter showers and make sure your extractor fan is left on for a few minutes after you finish.
  • Leave a window open in your bathroom for extra ventilation while in use.
  • Use lids on your pots and pans when in use. This stops extra steam and moisture escaping while you’re cooking.
  • Have a heat pump installed. Heat pumps are more energy-efficient than traditional gas or oil heaters and don’t release moisture into the air.
  • Regularly wipe down your windows and walls if you notice condensation forming.
  • Open your windows and doors for a few minutes each day to let fresh air in and ventilate your rooms without extraction fans.
  • Keep mattresses off the floor by ensuring they have a base.

Practice good hygiene to keep your family healthy.

There is no substitute for good hygiene as a defence against viruses and bugs. Hand washing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stop the spread of germs. Use warm water and lots of soap and make sure you’re scrubbing long enough. Make sure you have fresh towels and make sure your hands are dry after washing.

Stock up on fresh fruit and veggies

Yes, a healthy diet is of paramount importance to bolstering your immune system. Winter is one of these times where desserts and comfort foods are in high demand but make sure you keep a balanced diet. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables during winter will provide that added defence necessary to help your family healthy once the cold sets in.

A healthy family is a well rested family – make sure they’re getting plenty of sleep!

A great nights sleep helps you stay positive and stress-free. Getting into bed at a reasonable time and ensuring an uninterrupted sleep is a sure-fire way to stay healthy. Don’t forget to regularly wash your sheets and make sure your rooms are dry, well-insulated and dust-free. Keeping a healthy bedroom is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy and well this coming winter.

keep-a-healthy-home

Keeping a healthy home is important to stop your family from getting sick

There may be several reasons why your family is always sick or fighting off a cold. While some factors may be outside your control, controlling your environment and ensuring you have a healthy home one is something you can influence. Here are a few issues you will want to address to ensure you keep a healthy home all year round.

Moisture and mould

One of the most common issues New Zealand homes face is too much moisture in the home. This can lead to mould growth and many health and respiratory issues. You’ll know you have a problem if you start seeing damp or wet windows in the morning or mould starting to grow on the walls or carpets. This is usually a sign that your house isn’t well insulated on ventilated and these issues should be addressed as soon as possible.

Not enough ventilation

Ensuring your home has good extractor fans in the bathrooms and kitchen areas is another factor to consider. Removing excess moisture from the home is vital in keeping a dry and healthy home. Extractor fans are inexpensive and readily accessible from most major appliances stores around New Zealand.

Not enough insulation

Fully insulating your home is an important first step. A home’s thermal envelope must be intact with no breaks in the walls. Most New Zealand homes have floor or ceiling insulation, however, many homes do not have any wall insulation which can lead to cold and damp homes in the winter. Having your walls insulated makes it easier to heat and cool your home. In turn, it will significantly improve the quality of your home life and have a positive impact on your family’s health and wellbeing.

The team at CosyWall Insulation can provide you with a free home assessment and advise the best steps to take to ensure your house is properly insulated.

Your home cannot breathe by itself

Opening the windows and doors in your house for just 15 minutes in the morning lets fresh air into your home. This helps keep your home dry and helps remove any unwanted odours or bad smells.

Not enough natural light

Sunshine is great for your health and wellbeing. It helps boost your vitamin D, improves your mental health and is easier on your eyes. Studies have shown that the more natural light you are exposed to the better sleep you experience! We all know a good night’s sleep is important for your immune system.

Get rid of dust and toxins

Avoid using chemicals in the home! Pesticides and harsh chemicals are known to cause damage to the central nervous system and can also lead to other problems such as asthma and cancer. Be careful where and how you use sprays and cleaners. Take appropriate precautions such as wearing protective equipment and making sure there is adequate ventilation.

Dust is another cause of many health issues and allergies. Regularly vacuum and be careful when emptying your vacuum cleaner to make sure dust doesn’t spew back into the air.

home-thermal-envelope

The importance of closing your home’s thermal envelope

We’ve all experienced days when it’s ridiculously cold outside and it’s horrendously difficult to heat your home. Likewise, I’m sure you recall stupidly humid days in summer when it’s incredibly tough to cool the home down! This happens because the inside of your home is like a little atmospheric bubble, with air inside always trying to equalise itself with the outside temperature.

Your home’s insulation helps to provide a barrier that makes it difficult for air to escape from your home. It helps keep the inside temperature warmer or cooler for longer and helps to reduce the effort it takes to control the air temperature. In New Zealand homes, however, homes are generally only insulated to the minimum standards, which usually means a difficult and costly process for heating and cooling your home.

When you think about insulation, you usually think about the stuff they put in the roof and sometimes under the floor. What you may not realise, however, is that for most New Zealand homes there is little to no insulation in the walls and this creates a gap in your home’s thermal envelope.

So, what is a thermal envelope anyway?

The thermal envelope is a barrier created from all the different products and materials used in the construction of your house. This barrier helps protect the inside environment from the outside climate. Everything from your roof and concrete slab to your windows and insulation help to make up this barrier. Unfortunately, even the best-built houses often leave gaps or weak points that allow air to escape in and out of the home, with your walls being responsible for up to 30% of your home’s heating and energy loss.

If you think about it there are a lot of ways the air can escape through your walls. If your windows are thin, there are gaps in and around your doors, or if your walls are not well-insulated air can easily escape. The break in your home’s thermal envelope means that any effort you put into heating or cooling your house is quickly lost. However, there are things you can do to plug the gaps!

To remedy areas that could be a big part of the problem start with your windows. Replacing old thin window glass with new double-glazed windows helps to trap air inside, preventing it from escaping. Changing old wooden doors with better joinery can also help. The main issue for most houses however is the lack of wall insulation so, the best way to fix your thermal envelope is to ensure your walls are well insulated!

CosyWall Insulation is specifically designed to be blown into the walls of your home without having to remove the internal linings! The process is incredibly simple and an experienced installation team can usually have the job done in a single day. CosyWall Insulation is made up of loose cellulose fibreglass which is completely safe and poses no health risks to the family. It’s blown into your walls from either the inside or the outside through small holes which are then patched up and repainted so you’ll never know the process was done.

The insulation is blown at such a high density that it will never shrink or slump over time and with an expected 50-year durability, CosyWall Insulation will last the lifetime of your house! CosyWall has been installed in New Zealand homes for over 20 years and we have had countless customer testimonies advocating what an amazing difference it has made to their homes. If you would like to learn more about CosyWall Insulation just send us a quick message and one of our team will be right back in touch.

mould-growth

Health issues caused from mould growth in your home

Having mould growth in your home can be a costly and dangerous problem. Black mould, also known as Stachybotrys, can release spores into the air as it feeds on organic materials common in most houses. These spores, if inhaled, can lead to a range of mild to series symptoms for your family.

The most common symptoms of black mould are associated with your respiratory response, however, symptoms may be more severe if you have a mould allergy.

  • Regular coughing or sneezing
  • Sore or itchy eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Skin rashes
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headaches

If left untreated, prolonged exposure to black mould can cause more serious or dangerous health issues. If you are noticing nausea, vomiting and/or bleeding in the lungs and nose, this is usually a sign that urgent treatment is required. If you are seeing any of these indicators you must take swift action and approach your medical practitioner immediately.

Serious black mould infestations can be very costly to remove and may require a professional. In some situations, renovations may be necessary to replace damaged materials to resolve the problems; which is why we recommend taking steps to address the underlying causes of black mould quickly.

Treatment for mould growth

There are several treatments for mould allergies or acute mould exposure symptoms including nasal sprays, rinses and allergy shots. Antihistamines are also available from most pharmacies which can help your immune response.

If you are experiencing any mould related symptoms it is best to seek advice from your local medical practitioner immediately.

What can I do to remove black mould?

If you start noticing mould growing on your walls it is usually an indication of high levels of moisture in your home. In New Zealand, this is likely caused by poor insulation and/or ventilation in your home. It may be helpful to have an expert come and do a healthy home assessment to determine any weak points that need addressing.

Mould usually occurs in damp or moist places throughout the home. That is why you will typically start noticing mould growth in bathrooms and kitchens.

Bathrooms tend to be the worst culprit as the room can be badly ventilated, leading to mould growth. Having a good extractor fan in the bathroom is critical in removing excess moisture from the room.

Likewise, a good extraction system in the kitchen can help remove moisture caused by cooking and food preparation.

Another major factor is to do with poor insulation in your walls. If you find condensation regularly building up overnight or damp walls, this usually means there is no insulation in the walls. Hollow cavities in your walls allow moisture to get in and become trapped creating the perfect environment for mould growth. Insulating your walls is one of the best ways to control the moisture in your home. Using a blown insulation product like CosyWall Insulation is a great way to fix this issue.

CosyWall can easily blow into your walls from either the inside or outside of the home without having to remove the linings. Once installed, it helps seal your home’s thermal envelope and stabilises your home’s temperature.

Talk to an expert

If you think you need some help from an expert feel free to have a chat with one of our CosyWall Insulation team members. They can help you organise a free home assessment and provide you with the best solution for your home. Email us on sales@wallinsulation.co.nz or contact us today to find out more.