Eco-friendly guide to winterizing your home
As an eco-friendly homeowner, you know that conservation of Earth’s resources is one of the simplest, most effective means you have of doing your part for the environment. At no time of year does conservation of energy become more challenging than during the winter months. Heating costs alone account for nearly 50 percent of a household’s energy usage per year. Winterizing your home in an eco-friendly manner means sealing up, warming up and ensuring efficiency.
A leaky house is a wasteful house, so finding those vulnerable areas of your home where cold air gets in and warm air gets out is a good place to start eco-friendly sealing. Fill cracks and gaps around door frames, window frames and vents with an environmentally-friendly caulk, and line door and window edges with weather stripping. If you don’t have storm windows, cover windows and unused doors with heavy drapes to block out the cold. You can also use insulation kits, but since those generally can’t be reused, it’s the least green of the options.
Unused fireplaces in your home should also be covered to prevent the passage of air through the flue. If you do plan to use a fireplace, clean it at the start of the season to ensure safety, health and efficiency.
Insulation is like the winter coat for your house. The heavier it is, the warmer your home will be, so, if you know your house is poorly insulated, or if floors, ceilings and walls feel cold to the touch, it may be time to add some extra eco-friendly insulation. Adding it to walls will require cutting holes and renting equipment, best saved for spring when you can open windows, but you can add insulation blankets to the attic floor or staple insulation batting to the ceiling and walls of a basement to get you through winter.
Since your home’s hot water heater must work against the cold to keep water warm in winter months, it eats up a lot of energy on its own, so give it a coat of its own by wrapping it up in fiberglass insulation. The roughly $30 expenditure can save you up to 10 percent on your monthly electric bill.
Like most things, a central air unit runs most efficiently when it’s clean, so start the heating season off right by giving your air unit a good cleaning. Ensure the system runs well throughout the season by keeping a close eye on air filters and changing them as soon as they’re dirty. A good rule of thumb is to change filters at least once a month if you run the heat every day.
Perhaps the most energy-conscious choice a homeowner can make today when it comes to central heating is to have a programmable thermostat installed. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the unit to run at one temperature when you’re home and awake, another while you’re sleeping and yet another when you’re away from the house. That way, you’re never wasting energy by unnecessarily heating a space.
Eco-friendly winterizing may be a blessing to the environment, but it’s also a healthy choice for your family. By sealing up and maintaining your winter air, you’ll produce a warm, healthy indoor air supply at a time of year when it’s hard to get fresh air into the house. It’s good for the Earth, good for your family and good for your budget.