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Warming up this winter

Ideally the temperature in our homes during winter should be between 20°C and 24°C – and not drop below 16°C for bedrooms.

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But for our family that's been a challenge. Although it's insulated, our 100 year old villa has high ceilings and we’ve been struggling to keep Charlie and Sophia’s bedrooms warm enough the last two winters.

Our living area has a heat pump which is great for quick heating but does nothing for the rest of the house. Last winter we put panel heaters in the kids' rooms. We were only expecting the heaters to take the chill off (which they did) but they definitely didn't keep the rooms to a healthy temperature. With Sophia constantly fighting winter coughs we were also using an oil column heater in her room – not good for the power bill!

With winter number three on its way we've finally bitten the bullet and installed a freestanding woodburner and heat transfer system. We did lots of research on the best size – we didn't want a woodburner that was too big and would overheat the living area but the firebox needed to be big enough to keep the heat transfer system working through the night.

We're two weeks into having our woodburner up and running and we’ve got no regrets. Nothing is nicer than sitting in front of a fire and we much prefer the woodburner's heat to that of a heat pump. We're also impressed with the heat transfer system which is pumping the hot air from our living room to our three bedrooms.

With Charlie and Sophia (and their friends) tearing around we've also bought a good protective fireguard that's locked into place. This is great peace of mind for the inevitable times when you need eyes in the back of your head.

This year we've bought firewood – a mixture of pine and slower-burning manuka and we're experimenting with getting the best performance from our woodburner. But next year we're going to be organised and use our contacts for free firewood. Then the woodburner investment will definitely start to pay off!

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About the author:

Belinda Allan used to be Consumer's Research Manager with a particular interest in food issues. In her eight years at Consumer she read more labels than she cares to remember! Belinda left Consumer to become a Mum - Charlie is three and Sophia eight months. Definitely the most rewarding but challenging job she's taken on.

Belinda and her family moved to Gisborne for a slower-paced life, to be close to family – and the weather of course. She still writes for Consumer and will be sharing her parenting ups and downs in her blog.

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