In many parts of North America, the winter months are directly tied to the year's highest energy bills. Winter, however, doesn't have to be a season of waste. We've collected five ways you can still lead a green life, cut your winter energy usage, and still remain safe and warm.
1) Avoid Using the Fireplace
Yes, a fireplace cuts down on the home's energy usage, but real, working fireplaces introduce several of their own environmental concerns. Wood smoke is made up of hundreds of harmful chemical compounds including carbon monoxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxide and organic gases. Instead of turning to the fireplace on those coldest nights, homeowners should search for other, more environmentally friendly options such as space heaters and pellet stoves.
2) Install a Programmable Thermostat
Thermostats can be a useful tool to control a home's temperature, but too many homeowners waste energy by not lowering the temperature when they are away from home. Programmable thermostats can help you conserve energy and lower utility bills by allowing for easy temperature adjustment throughout the day, week, and month.
By setting the thermostat ahead of time, you can program the device to automatically reduce the home's temperature during periods when no one will be home. The system will remember these adjustments and even automatically adjust the temperature back to a warmer setting by the time you return.
3) Invest in a Pellet Stove
For a fireplace effect without the harmful environmental impact, consider investing in a pellet stove. Pellet stoves burn natural, sustainable biomass for fuel. Each pellet is made from items like forest waste or agricultural byproducts. They have also been proven to have a big impact on the environment and the home's energy usage. In fact, research shows that a single pellet stove can displace four to seven tons of carbon emissions each year, as well as cut a home's heating costs.
4) Insulate Smart
Ensuring your home is properly insulated is one easy way to retain warm air during the winter and doing so in an environmentally friendly way is easier than ever. Today, new insulation options made from recycled materials are gaining popularity. For example, denim insulation made from old blue jeans is one of the market's hottest options, and insulation solutions made from recycled materials are environmentally friendly and just as effective.
5) Heat Smart with Solar Energy
It may not seem true during the coldest months, but the sun still appears during the winter. And on those sunniest days, many homeowners don't capitalize on this natural heat. Installing solar panels on your home's roof can capture this power, and it can then be used for heating water and other energy-saving tasks. Installing the panels represents a significant investment, but homeowners will see the benefits of this change in the months and years ahead.