News about the health and beauty of the natural world that sustains us.
Freezing cold nights are just around the corner again. Unfortunately, that means working your heating appliances double time at the expense of your household budget and the environment. Don't fret. It is possible to keep warm, cut down your electricity bills and reduce your carbon footprint all at the same time if you keep these tips in mind.
Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
Yes, programmable thermostats have gotten a lot of flak for being difficult to use. However, there are versions that don't deserve to be tainted with the same brush, such as the ones listed in this Mashable article. If you use and maintain these thermostats properly, they can save you hundreds of dollars worth of electricity bills in the future.
Check Your Furnace
Has it been months since you last tuned up your furnace? You'd better do it again before winter comes. A defective furnace can drive up your bills and build up polluted air inside your home.
You have two options. You can either replace your furnace's filter, or follow this step-by-step guide on tuning up your furnace. If you're uncomfortable with home repair of any sort, it's better to seek the help of a professional rather than do it yourself and risk damaging your appliances further.
Seal Insulation Gaps
Even if your furnace is in good shape, you still have to check the house for places where the cold from the outside and the heat from the inside can seep through. Search the walls, windows and can lights for cracks. You can seal them with caulk, expanding foam or other suitable materials. For more information on sealing air leaks around the home, check out this Energy Star guide.
Keep Your Windows Covered
If you don't have the time or budget to buy new windows, cover up your existing windows with shades. You can also use curtains made of thick materials like velvet or flannel, though new curtains won't be enough if it gets too windy.
If you do have the time and the budget, it's best to invest in new windows. Choose the ones treated with low-E (low-emittance) coatings, which prevent heat from escaping your home.
Keep Unused Rooms Closed
The house's extra, unused rooms can sap the heat from the heavily used ones. To prevent this, check and seal the insulation gaps in the former, and keep them closed for the winter. Don't worry about those extra rooms getting chilly, they can always be reopened and reheated once the cold season ends.
Buy Area Rugs
When chilled, the floors can prickle your feet, especially if they're made of materials like wood and tile. Instead of cranking up your furnace even more, cover up your floors with area rugs like the ones from Home Depot. You can also buy some cute, furry slippers to keep your feet warm and feel more comfortable.
Get Up and Moving
What better way to heat up your body than through exercise? It doesn't have to be anything too strenuous, doing household chores should be enough. Also, cooking any meal can heat up your home and fill up your stomach at the same time.
Stock Up on Hot Water Bottles
While it's true that hot water bottles are "so yesterday", they're still one of the best ways to keep warm. Just lay one over your head, stomach or feet, and you'll feel nice and cozy in no time. Be sure to follow the necessary precautions for using hot water bottles, though!
Keeping warm doesn't have to break the budget or the environment. As long as you keep your home, and yourself, in good shape, you'll handle those freezing days and nights just fine.
Image by Up-Free
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.