As winter temperatures drop, keeping warm becomes a priority, but the conventional methods often result in increased utility bills and harmful emissions.
Heating, accounting for approximately 30 percent of utility bills, can be particularly costly in a drafty building. While major energy savings come from addressing air leaks and upgrading HVAC systems, there are additional steps to stay warm responsibly.
Tips to a Warm Home
Adjust Your Thermostat Strategically
Avoid wasting energy by keeping your thermostat consistently high, especially when unnecessary. A simple adjustment, lowering the temperature by 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours a day during colder months, can save up to 10 percent on annual energy use. Set the thermostat to 68-70°F while awake and lower it by 7-10 degrees when awake or asleep. Smart thermostats tailored to your schedule can enhance efficiency.
Be Mindful of Traditional Fireplaces
While a wood-burning fireplace may seem cozy, it is inefficient and releases significant pollution. The open design lets heat escape through the chimney, making it an impractical home heating method. Burning wood in such fireplaces contributes to air-quality issues, producing hazardous pollutants. Consider cleaner alternatives, use dry, seasoned wood, and adhere to EPA guidelines for responsible burning.
Opt for Electric Blankets Over Space Heaters
Portable electric space heaters are popular, but they consume more energy and pose fire risks. Space heaters use 750 to 1,500 watts, translating to six to 12 kilowatt-hours for eight hours of use. In contrast, electric blankets use 50 to 200 watts, offering a more energy-efficient and safer option. Additionally, heated foot warmers provide warmth without the drawbacks of space heaters.
Space Heater Safety Tips
If using a space heater, follow safety guidelines:
- Avoid buying second-hand heaters.
- Ensure the unit size matches the space.
- Check the outlet capacity and avoid extension cords.
- Place the heater on a nonflammable surface.
- Maintain clearance to prevent accidents.
- Use timers and unplug when not in use. Implementing these tips ensures a warm and comfortable winter without compromising environmental responsibility.