Hats, gloves, scarves. Bulky jackets and thick sweaters. Hot chocolate, stew, and holiday cookies. What do all these things have in common? Winter!
The cooler weather is upon us, and while winter temps may drive you indoors more often than you’d like, and have you crank up the heater to stay warm, it’s still possible to act sustainability and avoid a lot of the common winter waste that can occur. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Maintain a constant temperature at home
It’s perfectly acceptable to keep the heat going all winter long, but the temperature you set it at can really make an impact on the energy you use. During the day (and evening), when you’re home and awake, keeping your house between 67-70 degrees Fahrenheit is fine. What’s hard to remember is to adjust the temperature when you’re not home and when you’re sleeping.
When you’re away from home, there’s no reason to keep your heater working hard. Lowering your thermostat as little as 10 degrees reduces energy consumption and allows your home to heat back up without too much work when you’re back. This is especially important to remember if you’re taking any vacations over the winter months. You don’t want to pay for heat you’re not even using.
At night, lowering your thermostat by just 2-3 degrees helps conserve energy as well.
2. Deal with drafts
Once you’ve got your thermostat cranking out heat at just the right level, the next thing to ensure is that your house is holding that heat in. Any drafts you notice in your home are blatant spots that are wasting energy. They’re letting the heat escape, so your heater has to work harder just to maintain a comfortable temperature. This can raise energy bills and lower the efficiency of your heater.
To remedy the situation, there are plenty of DIY options for dealing with drafts; you just have to know where to look.
- Under doors and around the frame
- Around windows along the frame
- Attics, basements, and eaves where insulation is insufficient
Weatherstripping, caulk, and door sweeps are just some of the ways to fill in gaps where heat is escaping in your home. You may also need to look at your insulation and consider chimney repairs if the flue isn’t creating an air-tight seal.
3. Pick living decorations
Winter is synonymous with holidays. Say goodbye to fall decor, and say hello to twinkling lights for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. Most stores though will stock plastic or paper decorations you often use just once and toss, creating a lot of waste.
Instead, opt for reusable decor, or even better organic material you can compost later. For Kwanzaa, one traditional decoration is ears of dried corn. For Christmas, consider a live tree and using live wreaths and strands of living greenery around the home. The perk to living decor is you can recycle it after the holidays.
4. Recharge, stay warm, and reuse
Winter is often a time when you’re on the go a lot, and you’re cold. You get to the afternoon on a day like this and you’re low on energy and a bit chilly. Time for a pick-me-up that will warm you up. Whether it’s coffee, chai, or tea that does the trick, having a warm beverage becomes more of the norm throughout the day in colder months.
Rather than using a fresh paper cup each time you visit your favorite coffee shop, consider bringing a reusable, lidded mug with you. They’re usually better insulated than a disposable cup and less likely to leak. You’ll create less waste and keep your hot beverage drinkable longer.
Even better, some coffee shops offer a discount when you bring in your own beverage container.
5. Get road trips off to the right start
Traveling to see family over the holidays or trekking to the Smokies to ski, can mean loading up the car for a road trip. And, while driving is often a less expensive and easier way to travel, you can hit the road in a more sustainable way if you just take a minute to think about where you get your fuel.
Before starting out on your road trip, make the proactive move to act sustainably and fill up at a Twice Daily station. Here, you can take advantage of Twice Daily Thrive, a program that automatically offsets up to 30 percent of your car’s vehicle emissions. The Thrive program does this by investing in carbon reduction projects around the world that help to trap, destroy, and prevent carbon from entering the atmosphere, offsetting what your car puts out.
Along the drive, continue to reduce your emissions by turning your car off rather than idling for long periods of time and parking to walk in for that fast food grab instead of going through the drive-thru.
Keeping it ‘green’ even in the cold
Cold weather creates a whole new set of issues that, when looked at carefully, can provide new ways to act sustainably. Everything from holiday decor and gift wrapping to how you run your heater creates an opportunity to make a sustainable choice that reduces waste, and these choices all come with little-to-no inconvenience to you. So, it’s time to celebrate the wonderful winter season, and honor the environment, all at the same time!