This post is a free bonus chapter to go with my book “Greensplaining”. You can get the full book here.
It’s the pumpkin spice silly season. And every time I come back home these days, I’m more and more tempted to just find the warmest duvet and stay wrapped in it till the weekend. It’s a good idea, but are there any better – and greener – ways to protect your home from the cold? Here are three good questions you should be asking as you start your winter-beating project.
1. What’s my best option for heating?
This will differ from one place to another, because different countries have access to different resources (and price them differently). Please check out this guide for a summary of what it’s like in the UK (U.S. is bound to be similar).
On the whole – there will be options which cost you less and cause fewer CO2 emissions (mains gas, renewable tariffs, geothermal). And there will be those which always feel like you’re burning money – these tend not to be the greenest, either (electric space heaters should only be the last resort). This guide is a pretty useful starting point (again, UK-based, but useful in many other countries).
Figure this out early, and make sure your heating options are working for you. Switch to a greener energy provider if you can. And if you’ve got it worked out, make sure your heating system is well-maintained.
2. How do I stop heat escaping?
This is just as important as making sure the heat gets in! In many houses and flats, there are lots of places where heat just goes straight back out. Figuring these out is important – it saves you money, keeps your house warmer, and you don’t burn through too much fuel, so you’re living a greener life.
Don’t ignore the small fixes you can identify here. Even a tiny crack in a door can lead to some pretty serious heat loss! Start by walking around the house and checking for cold, or drafty, places. Then begin thinking about ways of fixing them. There are plenty of easy insulation options available – from draft excluders to insulation tape.
This infographic from Washington Post is pretty thorough, and gives you (in the second tab) some options on how to prevent heat leaks around doors and windows.
3. How can I keep myself and my dear ones warm?
This is my favourite question, because the answer involves knitwear and food. 🙂
Of course, you can jack the thermostat up to an insane temperature and still rock your favourite band T-shirt all winter. I’ll speak to you again when your fuel bill comes in. Meanwhile, I’ll be doing two things myself: wrapping up and cooking good stuff.
The “wrapping up” part is usually self-explanatory: warm clothes, more blankets, throws, or pillows, all make sense in the winter months. Our house makes proud use of pillows and blankets in front of our TV – and festive sweaters are an old favourite at my office! All of this keeps everyone warmer.
As for the cooking, there’s one thing I’ll definitely be making more use of this winter: the slow cooker. It’s just great to be able to set it up in the morning, and come back to a warm meal after work. Slow cookers are green – they use much less energy than an oven, according to this article – and easy to operate. For some recipe inspirations, please check out this collection (go for the vegetarian stuff to up your green game even more!).
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