By Camille Wejnert-Depue
During the winter months, we waste a lot of energy. In general, 61-86% of home energy use is wasted, and this percentage peaks during the winter season. Here are a few easy eco-friendly tips to reduce energy use, greenhouse gases, and pollution during winter.
Layer up. This might be the easiest and most obvious way to save energy during the winter months. Wear long johns, undershirts, and other base layers under your clothing and bundle up in sweaters and scarves and you can turn down the temperature a few digits on your thermostat. You can also help end plastic pollution by choosing clothing made of natural fibers — instead of synthetic fibers, which pollute our environment with microplastics when washed.
Seal your leaks. A common energy waste during the winter months is leaking air inside and outside your home. Leaking air waste is costly and it can also cause indoor air quality problems (i.e. moisture). In order to avoid any air leaks, you should inspect all areas where two different materials meet. These would include any kind of exterior corners, electrical outlets, door and window frames, etc. These wholes can be filled in with weather strips and expanding foam installation.
Turn down your water heater. Many homes get their heat through a water heater, which can often be costly and a waste of energy. One way to avoid wasting a lot of energy through your heating system is by turning down the water setting. Heating water can account for 18% of your home’s total consumed energy. A quick and easy way to lower your energy usage is to turn down the water temperature setting to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit (from the typical setting of 140 degrees Fahrenheit).
Use better lightbulbs. As the temperatures dip during winter, the amount of daylight and light also decreases. This can result in a greater dependency on light bulbs in and around the house for lighting. Since regular lightbulbs use a lot of energy and are hard to dispose of in an environmentally-friendly way, it’s best to switch to LED lightbulbs or CFL lightbulbs. These lightbulbs can save you 25-80% of energy use, are mercury-free, and last longer than regular lightbulbs.
Skip the street salt. Although road salt is used by many city and state governments to take care of icy and snowy roads and walkways, it also has negative effects on aquatic ecosystems. To clear your own path, choose a safer alternative, such as beet wastewater (left over from sugar beet processing!), cheese brine, pickle juice, and potato juice.
Take public transportation. As always, you can reduce greenhouse gases every time you leave the car at home and take public transportation instead.