Friday, December 23, 2011

Have a Green Christmas: 5 Ways to Avoid Wasting Heat

There are plenty of great things about the winter time; the majesty of a fresh snow fall, the feeling of festivity and, of course, Christmas day itself. But that doesn’t change one inescapable fact. It’s a lot colder.

The temptation to combat this change in the weather by simply turning your heating up as far as possible isn’t just bad for the environment, it’s also terrible for your finances, at a time of year when every last penny counts.

However, by following a few simple steps you can simultaneously perform those two tasks that so often go hand in hand; lowering your use of unsustainable fossil fuels and saving money!

Turn Down the Thermostat

Of course, we all know that the lower we have our thermostat set, the less energy will be using, and the less well be playing. But many don’t realise the large impact even a small change can make. For every single degree you turn your thermostat down by, you’ll save around 10% of your heating bill.

A really great investment to think about making is in a programmable thermostat, which you can set to regulate the temperature of your home, commonly leading to an average saving of between 10-15% of the average heating bill, and reducing unnecessary energy usage.

Use Your Curtains

One of the less appealing aspects of winter is waking up and coming home in the dark. Given that this is the case, you could be forgiven for thinking that there’s no point ever bothering to open your curtains. However, whilst curtains are a great tool for stopping heat from escaping through your window, by opening them at the right time they can also help keep your house warmer.

If you open your curtains up at the right time of day when the sun is brightest you’ll actually heat your home up. Just because it’s winter, don’t forget, you can still use sunlight to stay warm!

Layers

The easiest way of staying warm without burning fossil fuels is simply to put on a few more layers. Putting on a vest and an extra sweater (without going into the details of carbon footprint of their production) doesn’t involve burning fossil fuels and is still the most effective way to stay warm.

Look out for Ventilation

In winter you need to be extra wary of fans that will suck heat out of your home. For instance, when you are cooking, unless for some reason you’re generating a huge amount of smoke, leave your ventilator fan off to stop it removing heat from your home.

By the same token, unless the room has real problems with damp, you should turn off your ventilator fan when taking a shower, as it too will lower the temperature of your home. Indeed, you should do just the opposite. Allow the steam into your home by leaving the fan off and keeping the door slightly ajar. Since you’re using the energy anyway in generating heat to wash, you might as well harness it.

Insulation

If you can afford it, it’s a good move to have as much insulation as possible. However, whilst installing a full loft insulation or getting you windows double glazed can be fairly costly (though, of course, over the course of a few years they’ll pay for themselves in what they save you, not to mention lessening your environmental impact). As a cheaper alternative, even a change as simple as purchasing a few cheap draft excluders will make a real difference to the extent to which your heating efforts are wasted.

Fireplace inserts for your home

Steve Waller writes in depth about environmental issues on GreenSteve.