"You're from Scotland, you must be used to the cold!"
Being from Scotland I'm often asked how much I must love the New Zealand climate, (since everyone in the whole world knows that Scottish weather is crap) so I generally tell them that I do prefer New Zealand, but only in Summer.
However, the New Zealand winter is awful.
Why? Well, let me begin by stating that yes, the Scottish winter is much colder than New Zealand and the New Zealand winter is actually quite mild. (It never gets to minus figures in Auckland where I currently live) So whats the problem? sounds good right?
The reason the New Zealand winter is worth moaning about is that the mild winters here are drastically offset by the low or non existent quality of construction, insulation and heating in Kiwi buildings.
Let me ask you this, even in summer, 'where do you spend most of your time? Indoors or outdoors?', well unless you are a gardener, farmer, or road worker perhaps, most people will spend most of their day indoors at work and then indoors at home, with shorter periods outdoors.
So if that's the case in summer, where do you spend most of your time in winter? that's right, indoors!
New Zealand offices, New Zealand homes, New Zealand pubs, New Zealand cafes and New Zealand restaurants are all bloody freezing in winter. They simply have no concept of keeping their customers and workers in a relatively warm environment. If it's 12c outdoors, it's 12c indoors.
There is no minimum temperature regulation or law for NZ buildings, except for residential care homes and childcare centres where the minimum is 16c. That's right, 16c! The World Health Organisation goes on to state that for children and the elderly, this indoor temperature should be 20-21c ! New Zealand is 4-5c off the mark. New Zealand buildings are generally unhealthy, despite the fact that NZ has a *warmer* winter than Scotland.
The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum temperature indoors for healthy human habitation and that temperature is 18c. Remember, this is MINIMUM and New Zealand law is already 2 degrees below this. If you are reading this from a country which has central heating and insulation, I suggest you turn your thermostat down to 16c and leave it that way for a few days. You will be surprised.
Now I know what you're thinking. '16c isn't cold!, that's warm!'. So check out this document by housing expert Richard Moore to see what I'm talking about. It's a proven fact that anything below 16c causes a high risk of respiratory illness.
Now I'm being generous here, because for the first hour or so in a NZ home when you wake up in the morning, it's typically a lot lower than that. It was normal for my family to wake up to around 10c at 6-7am during winter in our house. (Thankfully we have since insulated and bought an efficient heat pump so don't have that trouble anymore)
Forger the health concerns and let's just talk about lifestyle. New Zealand is the ONLY country I have ever been to where I have had to keep my coat on while visiting a restaurant, food court, cafe, pub or even a friends house, it really makes me go out less here in this warmer country than I did when I lived in Scotland, which is simply, bizarre. My lifestyle in a New Zealand winter dictates than I spend more time indoors than I did when I lived in Edinburgh. Crazy I know.
Scotland, like many western or first world countries with a colder climate, has generally got heated offices, pubs, schools, homes and in fact, pretty much every indoor place you can think of has some kind of modern heating, or at the very least basic insulation.
New Zealanders often respond to this topic and people like me with the following statement 'Harden up mate!' Which is quite ironic because I know for a fact that many of those people sleep with a hot water bottle at night.
So, being a Scot, I have to just laugh when Kiwis mention how cold it must be in Scotland, I say, "yep, its cold, but only outside".
You live in New Zealand during winter when... Here are some stats about NZ Homes
45% of existing homes are mouldy
16% of homes have no insulation at all
21% of people aged 18–24 say their home is cold and uncomfortable
84% of households say they don’t have the financial means to make energy-saving renovations
Typically more than one third of the energy used in the home is for keeping warm
Nearly two thirds of homes in New Zealand were built before insulation became a legal requirement in 1979—just over one million properties
More than a quarter of the nation’s homes could be making their occupants ill
More than 75% of people who rented or bought a home in the past two years did not check insulation, hot water cylinders, heaters and other water and energy efficiency appliances