Streets icy as skating rinks and other Arctic front symptoms have gripped my hometown and much of the country today.
How are you staying warm? How much are you spending to do it? How much is the earth spending to do it?
I had considered posting today on the historic, heartening climate change agreement between the U.S. and China to reduce emissions. But, Bill McKibben of 350.org has already written a smart Top Ten Facts about it that takes the cake and win the show.
So instead, I’ll post — actually repost — ten tips on how we can deal with winter temperatures in ways that reduce emissions, ourselves. Our leaders can only take us to places we are willing to go. Technology is overrated as a problem-solver. Much problem-solving stems from personal choices. When we change our own behavior to reflect our deep values, like living in harmony with the earth, we become richer in what matters.
- Reduce the amount of space we’re heating. This and the following item are the most powerful things we can do to slash your heating bill. If you seldom use a room during the winter (a back bedroom or basement, for example), simply close its heating vent. Most of us spend most of our time in just a couple of rooms. Just heat those rooms, and only when you’re in them.
- Install a programable thermostat and set it so the heat is only on when you’re both in the house and not cozy-warm in bed. This is the most powerful single thing you can do to burn less fuel and save on your heating bill. Our heating bill dropped dramatically after my non-techie husband installed ours in 15 minutes with a screwdriver. Our heat now goes on 15 minutes before we get up in the morning, and off 15 minutes before the last person leaves for work. Here’s one of many places to buy a programmable thermostat. You can easily override it – but I suggest your default should be that it dials down to 45 degrees shortly before bedtime and your daily departure to work.
- Wear fleece in the house. Its sweet caress against the skin and comfort quotient just can’t be beat, in my book. And it enables my household to happily keep the thermostat at 67 degrees.
- Generate your own body heat by being active rather than sedentary. Remember, the goal is to keep us human beings warm, not the entire house warm. Vacuuming warms me up quickly, especially when I move furniture around. Hanging up clothes to dry rather than using the dryer burns more self-warming calories, and saves a considerable amount on our energy bills over time.
- Invest in good, cozy footwear, since much body heat gets lost through the feet. I wear alpaca-fleece socks for warmth plus sandals for grip on our hardwood floors. In general, if we have bare feet, bare arms or bare legs indoors in the wintertime, we’re overspending on heatingbecause we’re not keeping the person warm.
- Keep drawers and closet and cupboard doors closed. If they’re open, we’re paying to keep their contents warm. Do we really want to do that? Don’t forget to close the doors to the microwave, washer, dryer, toy chest and clothes hampers. A bed skirt helps to avoid heating the space under the bed.
- If you work from home during the day you can use an electric space heater to heat just your workspace and dial back that programable thermostat. I do this on the two days per week that I telework (I carpool on the days that I commute).
- Install insulation. We installed ours in the crawl-spaces in our attic in autumn 2005, and the difference was swift and certain. The house now heats up faster (using less fuel), and takes longer to lose its heat. The reverse is true is summer. Insulation is a good investment.
- Tightly seal around doors and windows. You can use old towels right now to stop drafts around a leaky door or window. Caulking for around windows and doors, new weatherstripping and door sweeps (they seal the bottom of exterior doors) are available at most supermarkets and are cheap and easy to install. Here is a good hands-on account of weatherizing a lovely, drafty old home from Christine at A Good Life.
- Seal that fireplace. While it’s cozy to sit around a crackling fire, fireplaces are notorious for pulling the heated air out of a room and sending it up the chimney even especially when in use. A fireplace store will sell you doors you can use to seal up that “hole in the wall” when it’s not in use.
The climate change agreement between the U.S. and China will only succeed if the human beings that comprise these countries have willingness to change. I’ve said it before, but people are allowed to repeat themselves on their birthdays (I’ve now completed 54 trips around the sun):
Our leaders can only take us to places we are willing to go. Technology is overrated as a problem-solver. Much problem-solving stems from personal choices. When we change our own behavior to reflect our deep values, like living in harmony with the earth, we become richer in what matters.