- Personal Finance
10 Ways to Be Eco-Friendly and Save on Winter Heating Costs
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 50% of energy consumed in average American households goes to heating and cooling. It's not that surprising, really. On scorching summer days, most families depend on air conditioners to stay cool and perhaps sane! In the wintertime, how would anyone endure snowy days without a heater? These technologies are meant to make our lives more convenient. Who wouldn't want to be comfortable in their own home anyway? However, that doesn't mean it's impossible to use less energy and save some money. Here are 10 practical ways to stay warmer while minimizing the use of your heating system. No matter how freezing this winter is going to be, you can conserve more energy, maintain an eco-friendly home, and most importantly, keep your wallet a little fatter!
Caulk All the Cracks
Think of cold air as a sneaky thief that keeps looking for furtive entrances to your home. If you live in an old house, it's wise to walk through every room and carefully check for leaks once in a while. Pay extra attention to often neglected areas, such as the garage, attic and basement. Once you locate all the little cracks and holes on your walls and ceilings, caulk them up nice and tight. You'd be surprised how much more warmth your house can conserve.
Don't Be Mindless about Your Thermostat
Before leaving your house, turn your thermostat down to a very low setting or just turn your heater off. There's no reason to keep an empty house so toasty and comfy. Better yet, consider installing a programmable thermostat, so that you won't have to keep adjusting it every day.
Dress Your Windows with Smart Drapes
Trap more heat inside your house with thermal insulated curtains. These eco-friendly inventions are highly recommended for houses in freezing climates. They tend to be pricier than regular curtains, though. In case you don't want to spend extra money on these special curtains, any heavy drapes should be a decent alternative. If you're into DIY stuff, why not try turning some warm blankets that you don't use into nifty window treatments?
Fight the Winter with Food
Want to use less of your heater? Toughen up the "winter wimp" in you with food therapy! According to the ancient Chinese medicinal culture, certain beverages and foods contain "yang properties" that help the body generate more heat and render it easier to battle winter chill. Many consider this food therapy to be a practical method while some others believe it's just a placebo effect. To try it yourself, visit Eat to Beat Winter Chill.
Get Bundled Up
This energy-conserving strategy is a no-brainer; it's one of the oldest winter warming tactics known to mankind. If you live in an area where most winter days are not extremely harsh, simply keep yourself warmer by wearing more layers of clothes and use your heater only on the coldest days.
Invest on an Eco-Friendly Heating System
Most central heating systems in the US are fueled by natural gas and generated in either a furnace or a boiler. The efficiency of your heating system can be determined by how well it converts fuel into heat, known as the "combustion efficiency." In general, a boiler is considered to be greener than a furnace, because it requires less energy to distribute the heat, and allows you to set the temperature separately in different areas of the house, which accordingly conserves more energy. Some other greener options include the solar heating, the freewatt system (a hybrid between a boiler and a natural gas generator module), and the Acadia heat pump (providing heat and air conditioning in one single unit). These green technologies are still very pricey. If you can afford to purchase and install one, however, it's really going to be worth your money in the long run.
Opt for an Energy-Efficient Water Heater
At the end of a chilling winter day, who wouldn't enjoy a nice hot bath or steamy shower? What usually accompanies such luxury, however, is a whopping increase in water heating costs. To conserve energy and save yourself some bucks, throw away your old energy-wasting water heater and opt for a greener version. Various types of eco-friendly water heaters are available nowadays. Most of them are very affordable although some high-end ones are still quite expensive for average homeowners to buy.
Scrimp with a Space Heater
Why heat up the whole house when you're actually using only one room? If you spend most of your time in a small reading room or home office, an energy-efficient space heater is a more economical choice than a central heating system. Keep in mind, though, that this money-saving method only works if you want to heat one or two small areas at a time. Utilizing several space heaters at once is not going to be very cost-effective.
Stay Cozy Near the Kitchen
The kitchen is often a very warm place, so why not try to use the residual heat from your cooking to your advantage? For those of you who routinely cook, consider transforming your dining room or an area close to your kitchen into your family's winter sitting room. After turning off your oven, leave its door open so that the heat can radiate to the nearby area. Even if you're not much of a baker, other cooking activities that involve the stove should still create a good amount of heat to make the area around the kitchen pretty warm and cozy.
Weatherstrip Your Doors and Windows
Drafty doors and windows are easy gateways for cold air to seep into your home. By sealing them with weatherstripping products, you can keep out unfriendly drafts and accordingly cut down the heating costs. The best thing about weatherstripping is that it's a very cheap and easy way to insulate your home. Watch the following video by Home Depot to learn about different weatherstripping products, and how to apply them to your doors and windows.