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September 27, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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Looking for a flat

We’re all too close to flat hunting season, and it’s gonna get messy. Which flat you chose to live in has a big impact on your energy usage and your health, so here are a few things to look for to help ensure your next flat is warm and dry.

Sun is free warmth, and the more the better. Look for north-facing windows that are clear from trees and hills. I know you’re looking for a flat in the summer, but remember the sun is lower in the sky in winter.

Insulation cannot be over rated, it will keep you warmer and require less energy to heat your new flat. Ask the landlord about ceiling insulation especially—heat rises, and if the flat isn’t insulated a third of the heat will escape through the roof. You’re paying for that heat.

Curtains are cool, even cooler if they’re fluoro orange or floral. But what makes curtains really cool is when they’re of the thick thermal variety, and fit the windows/doors properly. Having a window without curtains is like having a hole in the wall. Like that time you had that party and that guy threw that bottle through that window. Sure lets the breeze in, huh?

Draughts are not cool though, so check that doors and windows close properly.

Heat pumps and wood burners are super good for keeping you warm—much better than un-flued gas heaters and open fireplaces. And much, much better than not having a heater at all (unless you’ve transferred from Otago, you can’t handle that).

Ventilation fans for the bathroom and kitchen are important for keeping down dampness, which then makes the place easier to heat.

Washing lines outside are the best way to dry your clothes, especially when they are in well ventilated (shouldn’t be too hard) and sunny areas. If there’s a dryer, look for an external vent.

Shower—ask if it’s a low-flow one. If it’s a good one, it will feel like a normal shower but save you lots of money in water heating bills.

Hot water cylinders are best when they’re insulated, and even better when they’re heated by the sun.

This is by no means a definitive guide to looking for a warm, healthy flat. Have a look online for some more help, ask the Accommodation Service at uni for some advice, and hit up the cool kids running the Warm My Flat campaign (they have a Facebook page, of course). And by all means when you’re looking at a flat, ask the current tenants and the landlord questions.

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About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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