No one likes opening their utility bill, especially in the winter. Cold snaps can drive up heating costs, and warming up with a hot shower after shovelling your way through waist-deep snow can cause spikes in your water use.
And let’s be honest, keeping your home comfortable isn’t necessarily an environmentally-friendly task. So what can you do to have a greener home in the winter?
It’s Not Too Late to Start
Windows and Doors
Drafty windows and doors cause warm air in your house to escape, and cold air from outside to seep in. Not ideal, especially when it’s -30! Check the seals around your windows to make sure they’re not cracked or falling out. If they are, grab a tube of caulk from the hardware store and do a quick repair. While you’re there, pick up some draft stoppers to put at the bottom of your doors to keep the cold air out.
For a simple fix, you can use towels or blankets around your windows and doors to keep the cold air out. This is especially useful in rooms you don’t use often, like in the basement.
While the thought of looking at the snowbanks on the sidewalk might be too much to handle on some days, open your curtains and blinds to let the sun in and help warm up your house during the day. Close them again at night to help control any drafts.
Wood-burning fireplaces can be a huge factor in warm air loss. For an easy fix, make sure to keep the damper closed when you don’t have a fire burning to keep cold air from coming down your chimney.
You could also install tempered glass doors which will absorb and radiate heat into the room better than a fireplace without doors.
For a more sophisticated solution, install a heat exchange system to your fireplace which will draw in cool air from your home, heat it up, and then disperse this warmed air back into your living space.
If you don’t use your fireplace at all, plug and seal the chimney flue to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.
When was the last time you cleaned or replaced your furnace filter? If it’s been more than three months, stop reading and go do it now. A clean filter will help your furnace run more efficiently, saving you money and keeping your home more comfortable.
Now that that’s done, check your thermostat. If it’s programmable, use that feature. People sleep better when things are a bit cooler, so program your thermostat to go down a couple of degrees when you are sleeping. Set it to start heating up again about 45 minutes before you normally get up in the morning to ensure your house is nice and toasty when you roll out of your warm bed.
If you have rooms in your home that you rarely use, close those room vents so warm air can be directed elsewhere. And if you have ceiling fans, ensure they’re running in a clockwise direction. This will allow the blades to create an updraft, which will suck cold air up and force the warm air down.
The Water Tank
Save a bit on your heating and water bills by turning down your water tank by a couple of degrees. Really, do you need scalding temperatures in the shower? By turning down the water temperature just a bit, you’ll save on energy, prolong the life of your tank, and keep your water temperature at a safer, but still warm level.
The Electrical Outlets
Surprisingly, electrical outlets can cause huge drafts in your home! While you’re at the hardware store, pick up some outlet covers to cover up any unused outlets or buy insulated outlet covers that go under current covers! The things you learn when searching how to keep your home more green in winter.
Prepare for Next Winter
Once we’ve made it through this winter...ok, we know better. We have at least one more cold snap before Spring is truly here. So, it’s never too late to start making small upgrades to your home.
Some things to look at or improve in your home include:
Insulation: Depending on how old your house is, it may be time to invest in new insulation to keep the cold at bay. Or, you may just need to add some additional insulation to certain trouble spots.
Windows: Most new windows are double or triple glazed, and some come with an e-coating that can make your home more energy efficient by reflecting the interior temperatures back inside.
Furnace: Have your furnace tuned-up and your ducts cleaned at least once every year.
With the solutions provided here, you should no longer dread opening your utility statement each month and you can keep your home and family warm the next time Jack Frost comes nipping at your nose.