You don’t have to start a bonfire in a 50-gallon drum in the middle of your living room to reduce your energy use and heat your house this winter. There are many great, arson-free ways of keeping your home warm while lowering your carbon footprint.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you keep all the heat that you generate. This means insulation. Make sure your windows are tightly shut and aren’t leaking. If you encounter leaks, fix them with caulking or plastic window insulation—the plastic will keep the air from escaping without creating the eye sore of using a shower curtain while still maintaining your view. The same applies to doors; make sure there are no significant leaks. If you find cold air coming through the door, invest in some weather stripping, or, make your own out of used t-shirts and linen. So you’re not stuffing the clothes in strategic piles on the floor, roll them into a cylinder the length of the door and tie it together with twine, tape or rubber bands—that way it’s quickly removable.
Think of your house as a person fighting against the cold, the best way to stay warm is to wear a good coat, put on a warm, knit hat and use a blanket if necessary. These same ideas apply to the house. You don’t want the warmth of your house leaking out through a bad coat or hat so make sure the insulation in your home is strong. Six to ten inches of insulation is the industry standard for the attic and if this is the only investment you make it will be a good one. The same applies to windows; while they let in heat and warm the house during the day, as soon as the light leaves so does the warmth. Blanket the windows with heavy drapes (or blankets), which will trap in the heat you’ve been saving up all day. You can also cover your bare floors with rugs, mats or runners, which will prevent the floor from leeching out warmth from your bare feet or simply leaking it into unwanted places.
Also, remember that your kitchen itself is an excellent furnace. Take advantage of your oven and stovetop and let your cooking do some of the heating for you. If you’re not feeling particularly hungry you can even boil water in a pot and then remove the lid and let the steam fill the room. The extra humidity will also be great for your sinuses, which tend to dry out in the winter.
To really save money and invest in green heating solutions, consider buying a candle powered heater. This green space heater is made from concentric ceramic pots held together by a steel core positioned over the candle and allowing the ceramics to disperse the heat to about 160 degrees. Those feeling ambitious, or those who want to test their hand at some engineering, can try creating a solar heater for their home; although some of the parts required are a little more exotic than might be available at your local hardware store.
Last but not least, dress yourself to handle the warmth. Barring extreme, pipe-freezing temperatures, your house will be fine cold; it’s yourself you have to look out for. Dress in layers, or use blankets, socks or slippers, and heating pads.
About the Author: Jennifer D’Angelo writes about Right Residential. In her free time, she’s constantly looking for ways to make her home greener!