Winter Wise

Winter weather often brings a big chill to most of the country. This weather is conducive to relaxing indoors and spending time with family. Here are a few suggestions for enjoying this time in an eco-friendly way.

If you have a traditional non-gas, open fireplace, warm up with environmentally-friendly fire logs. TerraCycle Eco-Friendly Fire Logs are made from recycled, re-purposed wax-coated cardboard. In addition to being non-toxic and clean-burning, these fire logs help divert used boxes from the waste stream. If it’s your first fire of the season, don’t forget to open the flue! Enjoy the fire with your loved ones and a cup of organic hot chocolate, cider, or coffee.

Your home heating costs are likely to rise over the next month. Every degree you lower your thermostat saves approximately 5% of your home energy use. Programmable thermostats are great for automatically reducing the temperature late at night and bringing temperatures back up for the morning so homes are comfortable when people awaken.

If you have a heat pump with a backup or "emergency" heat, be cautious as this backup heat source uses a lot more electricity so you'll want to avoid frequent resets to the thermostat that engage your backup heat supply. It's best to use a programmable thermostat that is specifically designed for heat pumps. Otherwise, you can gradually adjust the temperature to a higher setting.

Other ways to reduce energy usage during winter months include cleaning or changing filters for your air returns, closing drapes to reduce heat loss through windows (except for south-facing windows during the day), sealing leaks around drafty doors or windows, and closing fireplace flues when not in use. Also, ceiling fans directed downward can help to distribute the heat throughout your room, rather than letting it collect at ceiling level.

Finally, if you have a hot water tank that is warm to the touch, it would benefit from additional insulation. Look for pre-cut jackets or blankets with an insulating value of at least R-8. If you have an electric hot water heater and follow prescribed guidelines, this is a fairly easy do-it-yourself project. You may want to hire an expert if you have a gas hot water heater.

This is a great time for us to conserve our personal energy as well. The holidays are drawing to a close and the hustle and bustle of the new year isn’t quite upon us. So use this time to relax, refresh, and recharge while you can! We wish you all a very happy and healthy new year