Winter Chills – How to sustainably survive the cold
Winter can be a magical time, for those prepared for it. When it hits, embrace the cooler temperature with a seasonal wardrobe change, dust off the dust and get those layers out, then snuggle up nice and warm. Like with most things in life, there is always that other-side to the coin and we find ourselves knee deep in snow. In the pursuit for warmth and shelter we turn to in indoor activities, mainly at home. With most of our waking moments spent in the house or at work, energy becomes an all too important factor, and we find ourselves taking full advantage of a good heating system.
There is nothing wrong with trying to stay warm, but what if nice and cozy didn’t come with a lot of strings attached… like that massive energy bill looming over you? Better yet, imagine if you could have everything you want this winter while doing one better for the environment. By now you may well know that when it comes to the environment every little very much helps. Making a few routine adjustments or even using alternative renewable energy definitely goes a long way.
Compiled below, in no particular order, are some of the best tips for surviving the winter chill. Forget compromising your precious warmth or the environment, who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too!
Embrace the sun
Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean the sun has abandoned ship. Take advantage of the daytime sunshine, open curtains on your south facing windows during the day. Encourage sunlight to naturally warm up your home, but remember to close them at night to reduce the chills emanating from those cold windows.
Drafty windows begone
Depending on your house, keeping warm can be quite the challenge especially if you fall victim to drafty windows. Easy solution, use a heavy duty clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. This can be a little tricky so make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
Alternatively, you could just install tight fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty. These simple tweaks can drastically improve energy efficiency, find out more about other window treatments and coverings.
Adjusting the temperature for optimum comfort
This will come as no surprise to some, adjusting your temperature can do you a whole world of good. For example, when you’re active, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. Then when you nod off to the land of dreams or just fancy snuggling up in bed, turn your thermostat back 10° to 19° Celsius for around 8 hours depending on your sleep cycle. This simple tweak could save you up to 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. You may want to consider installing a smart meter to help you monitor temperature.
Curling up by the fireplace
Fireplaces have always been known to draw people in with the promise of warmth, their sparks actually almost magical. Generally a fantastic way to warm up your home, while keeping energy costs down. For maximum benefits, remember to keep your fireplace damper closed unless there is a fire burning, leaving it open is like having a window open the cold pouring in. Much like Santa clause, open dampers will allow the warm air to escape from your house right through that chimney.
To further reduce heat loss from the fireplace, open dampers in the bottom of the firebox if possible or crack open the nearest window, only slightly though so approximately 1inch and be sure to close all the doors leading into that room. Adjust the thermostat setting between 10° and 12° Celsius.
If you own a chimney but never use it, not to worry you are not alone. The whole process of setting up a chimney can be a little off putting. Just be sure to plug and seal the chimney flue to maintain the ideal temperature. Otherwise if you do use your fireplace, make sure you install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. It is worth checking the seal on the fireplace flue damper, make sure this is as snug as possible. Find out more techniques for managing a fireplace.
Life saving renewable energy systems
As the prices for gas and electricity continue to soar, sources suggest renewable heating is the best solution. Installing renewables such as solar panels and biomass heating systems could be just the saving grace for your house. Generated from sources that are constantly replenished such as the wind, sun and water, renewables will drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
There are a number of ways to generate energy, you could use low or zero carbon ‘micro generation’ technology at home. Imagine, instead of relying on the grid, you could install your own renewable heating! Cut costs and reduce your carbon footprint all at once. Better yet, finally get that peace of mind when you are no longer dependent on sources of energy that are increasingly subject to global demand. Say goodbye to the threat of future price increases and hello to a more sustainable way of life.
- Most of us have heard about solar panels at one point of another, if not, this is something worth looking into. Designed to harness the power of sunlight, these panels are able to heat water using the sun to heat the temperature of liquid in the panels. This is then used to heat hot water in a tank ready for use. It is best to install them on south-facing roofs shaded by trees or other buildings. In terms of pricing, they are cheaper to install than other renewable systems but they only heat water so you would be needing another system to heat your home.
- The good news is that solar panels can be used to generate electricity to help power your appliances, effectively cutting down your electricity bills. Any unused electricity you generate will be fed into the national grid and you could make a pretty penny from it.
Biomass heating systems
- Not as common or easily recognisable as the solar panels, biomass heating systems are amazing. They work wonders for the home and are ideal for maintaining good a temperature during the cold weather. These systems were designed to provide heat and hot water by burning organic material in a wood burning stove or boiler. Often used to heat a single room, they generate enough heat so that you will not need to turn to central heating.