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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Stay warm this winter

Here are four non-polluting ways
By: Emily Zak

winter GIFWinter is often an intense time for air pollution, with wood stoves and heaters on full blast.

But you don’t necessarily have to turn your heat off and wear a parka to conserve energy. Here’s how you can comfortably stay warm as temperatures drop even further. 

1. INSULATE

Don’t let the warmth you create escape outside. Caulk and weather-strip windows and doors, as well as using a store-bought or homemade draft stopper – a tube-like object that you put at the base to keep the cold from creeping in. Pipe insulation works fine for this purpose. Shrink-wrap the windows you don’t plan on opening until spring, and use rugs to insulate hard floors.


But don’t overlook your biggest energy thieves. According to the Centre for Sustainable Energy, 55 percent of heat leaves through your walls and roof. Consider hanging up blankets on the walls in cold areas. In the long run, insulate better. The Department of Energy offers some detailed tips for air-sealing your home.

2. MAKE PRE-EXISTING HEAT LAST

Winter is a perfect time to throw together a casserole or bake some cookies in the oven. Once you make sure the temperature is off and clear any children or pets from the vicinity, you can take advantage of the remaining heat by leaving the door open. 

In areas where you don’t have to worry about mildew, you can similarly leave hot water in the tub after you’re finished with a bath. 

Open your south-facing window shades to let the winter sun stream in, and close them at sundown. Now is also the time to break out your coziest sweaters, slippers and blankets to harness your own natural body heat. Cuddle your pet or someone else!

3. WATCH YOUR THERMOSTAT

According to the Department of Energy, turning your thermostat down about 10 degrees lower than where you usually have it can shave 10 percent off your energy bill in a year. Try setting it at 68 degrees — or less, if preferred — when you’re awake, and turning it down when you’re asleep or away.

With a programmable thermostat, you can set your desired temperatures depending on the time of day, so it adjusts automatically.

4. CHOOSE THE RIGHT HEATING TOOLS

It’s an age-old question: Should you use a space heater or central heating to warm up your space? 

Mother Jones‘ Kiera Butler found that space heaters are more efficient if you need to heat one or two rooms, but central heating is your best bet otherwise. Take steps like keeping your filters clean and getting your heating system serviced to help it run at its best.

If you do go the space heater route: Try a radiant heater if you need to heat up a small space, and a convection heater if you’re aiming to warm the whole room. Some heaters are more eco-friendly than others, so it pays to do your research.

Do you prefer getting snug by a wood-stove? If it’s in your budget, consider upgrading your old pot belly to a more modern stoveBlock your chimney when you aren’t using it to guard against the outside chill.

No matter the route you choose, make sure to circulate your heat to where you need it. Run a ceiling fan on reverse or a fan to spread hot air through the house. Make sure your heating vents aren’t blocked to help the air flow.

About Emily Follow Emily at @EmilyEZak