1960's brick veneer house in Christchurch, which I've owned for 5 years. It already had double glazing installed when I bought it, along with underfloor and ceiling insulation but during the first winter it was fricken freezing! The decent size Mitsubishi heatpump just couldn't keep up and I was getting $500 power bills (living alone at the time) - but I was still cold unless standing directly under the heater.


After the first winter I had a ULEB wood burner and Insulmax retrofit wall insulation installed. Both made an immediate difference - the wood burner now heats the house to a good temperature quickly and easily, and the wall insulation has made a massive difference to heat retention overnight. It's usually around 16 degrees on a winter morning now (previously it was like 5 or 6 degrees by morning). We have a shower dome and good bathroom ventilation, but I use a dehumidifier over winter which collects around 10 litres of water every week or so. I don't have a vapour barrier but it's on the to do list, along with a heat transfer system that came with the wood burner which I've just never got around to installing. Current heat transfer "system" consists of a large desk fan on the hallway floor pushing cold air into the lounge, which is then heated by the fire, rises and rushes back along the hallway to the bedrooms at head height - works a treat and helps regulate the lounge temperature which can get a little too hot if I over-stoke the fire.


We're now with Electric kiwi for power so we use the heatpump for our hour of power between 6am-7am to heat the house up for free when getting ready for work, then my wife and I are gone all day, and I light the fire as soon as I get home in winter. Summer and the shoulder months don't require any heating or cooling at all.


Power bills are now a more respectable $120-$140 a month year round. It could be way less if I didn't enjoy long showers, and we also have a spa pool. We go through about $200-$300 of wood over winter, which I always buy in January/February when it's cheapest.


Over time I've learned to regulate the wood burner temperature pretty well - as I write this it's 10.30 at night, the fire is barely running, and the temperature according to my dehumidifier is 24 degrees @ 60% humidity.