Winter brings extra chilly weather and can lead to a massive increase in our energy usage for heating our homes. However, we can take steps to lessen the impact of keeping our home warm on both our wallets and on the planet.
1. Programmable Thermostats
One of the easiest ways to reduce your energy usage while still keeping your home warm is to invest in a programmable thermostat. Not only is it more convenient to schedule your home to be warmer or cooler at different parts of the day, but programmable thermostats also may have learning features that help them optimise your home heating while you can keep warm and cosy.
2. Geothermal Energy
Geothermal, although one of the most efficient ways to heat your home, is also one of the most expensive. Installing a geothermal system to your home will run you typically between $20,000 to $25,000.
However, if you’re interested in making the investment, geothermal will save you money over the systems lifetime, with some even recouping the cost in as little as seven years, and you’ll have the satisfaction of harnessing energy the earth naturally produces to heat your home.
3. Solar Heating
Solar heating provides another efficient, albeit expensive, way to heat your home using renewable energy. Solar heating can be especially effective if you live in a part of the world that has a lot of sunshine throughout the year. For instance, the Southwest part of the U.S. can have sunshine for up to 300 days per year, giving plenty of opportunity for utilising solar energy.
4. Wood Burning Stove
Wood burning stoves have been a popular method of heating homes for years, and newer models are typically able to heat entire homes. The primary drawbacks of wood burning stoves are the amount of ventilation necessary for the stove and purchasing or cutting and storing enough wood for the winter.
If these aspects of a wood burning stove don’t deter you, then wood burners are extremely efficient heaters and much friendlier to the planet than oil or gas.
5. Thermal Shades
Adding thermal shades to your window will ensure more heat stays in your house, keeping things warmer throughout the wintertime. However, even if you don’t have thermal shades, just keeping your curtains or blinds open during sunny days and closed at night will have a dramatic impact on how warm your home is.
6. Energy-Efficient Space Heaters
Space heaters provide a great way of heating areas that is significantly cheaper than installing a heating system. If you aren’t looking to spend as much as you would on geothermal or solar heating systems, there are great energy-efficient space heaters available that can ensure you stay warm without using an excess of energy.
7. Area Rugs
Although maybe a less conventional way of keeping your home warm, if your floors are warmer, then you will be too. Area rugs are particularly effective in homes that have a lot of wood, laminate, tile or stone floors as they’ll keep those surfaces warmer without necessarily needing to use a more expensive method, such as radiant floor heating.
Approximately 25% of heat is lost through our roofs, so ensuring that you have a properly insulated attic and even walls will protect your home from massive heat loss. If you’re concerned about the sustainability of insulation, numerous eco-friendly options exist, including sheep’s wool and denim.
Even small changes like ensuring your windows and doors are properly sealed or having double paned windows can drastically decrease the amount of heat lost.
9. Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are typically used for cooling your home during the summertime. However, reversing the direction of the fan has the opposite effect by drawing down heat to the lower areas of your hoe rather than pulling it upward. This is an easy and efficient method to make your house feel warmer without using much energy.
Part of the frigidity of winter is dry air. The humidity in your home should be between 20-40%. Using a humidifier in your home can help you feel warmer, but if you see any ice forming on the inside of your windows, it means the air in your home is too warm.
Keeping warm in the winter without using a ton of energy can be a challenge, but whether you’re looking to change up your home’s heating system or simply make small changes to reduce your energy usage, there are a lot of options out there to heat your home and help the planet.
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her blog, Conservation Folks, for more of her work.