Here are some detailed answers to 3 broad, general questions:
How can you save energy and money heating and cooling your home, and in life in general? Here’s a crash course:
Install and use a programmable thermostat. Include your sleep schedule when you program it, and sleep with heavier blankets and comforters in combination. Layers are key. You can program thermostat so that it warms the house right when you need to get out of bed, and right when
you come home! But so that it turns off to a reasonable temperature when nobody’s around or everyone is in bed. Don’t forget about your pets! Where do they sleep? Are they going to be warm enough?
2. Bundle and cuddle
In winter, use more blankets during your chill out time, and also wear warmer clothes or layers. Put on a hoodie and discover the love of slippers, AKA house shoes. Snuggie, anyone? Or SNUGGLE!
3. Check it out
Have an energy audit done and seal up your house. Aka winterize and summerize your home! This ranges from windows to doors, to your outlet covers and more. There are lots of supplies out there for you that you would never have dreamed of! We stick with very low waste, reusable options here. Most of the bags you acquire from weatherizing your house will be recyclable with your other plastic bags and film. Check with your plastic bag recycle to make sure that you can recycle your window film with them. Most retail stores and grocery stores have plastic bag recycling. Never put plastic bags or film in with your regular recycle.
4. Hold it in
Buy insulated curtains that keep the heat out in summer, and keep the
cold out in winter and hold the heat inside. They work really well! You can even get them in light colors that still let the light in. Close the curtains during the night in the winter, and let the sun in to heat the home in the daytime.
5. Close it off
Only heat parts of the house you’re in beyond a certain point. Of course, keep every faucet from freezing. You have to keep your heat high enough to keep your pipes from freezing in the winter.
6. Play small
Space heaters can be great for heating small spaces when you’re not going to be moving around much, like during the night or in the evening while you are relaxing.
7. Insulate and decorate
Use extra rugs on wood floors in winter. You can also decorate with heavy
Use extra decorative rugs on your walls and floors as insulation.
decorative blankets on the wall year round for insulation. This is a common practice in the coldest parts of the world.
8. Heat ‘n’ eat
In winter, you can cook at strategic times to heat the house. Then go ahead and leave the oven cracked open- if it is safe in your household to do so- to add some extra heat. Obviously do not do this around children or any people that don’t understand about the dangers of a hot oven!
9. Go rogue
Did you know that if you have a big enough compost pile you can actually install a system to heat part of your house, your water, or your floor with it? You could save all that energy and money… Oh boy! Just saying. Check your building codes, etc to keep it legal.
1. Don’t be too cool
Install and use a programmable thermostat. Include your sleep schedule when you program it, and sleep with lighter weight sheets and blankets so that you don’t have to run so much (or any) AC while you sleep. Layers are key. You can program it so that it cools the house right when you need to get out of bed- and right when you come home! But so that it turns off to a reasonable temperature when nobody’s around or everyone is in bed. Don’t forget about your pets! Where do they sleep? Where do they stay during the day? Are they going to be cool enough?
2. Be skimpy
In summer, wear less clothes! In your house, especially. Certain fabrics breathe better than others, and can keep you comfortable in hotter times, even out in the sun. For example, draping a light-colored sarong over your shoulders actually feels a lot like sitting in the shade in the summer. Much cooler. So skip the skinny jeans and spandex- or any jeans beyond
jean shorts for that matter- while you are trying to keep cool in the summer.
3. Hold the cold
Buy insulated curtains that keep the heat outside/cold inside in summertime. They will also keep the cold out in winter. They work really well! You can get them in light colors that still let the light in. In the summer, close the curtains to keep the heat out in the daytime. In the evening, when it gets cooler outside than it is inside, open up the windows and curtains to let the house cool down. Be sure to close your windows in the morning before the heat rises above the inside temperature, and start the cycle over again!
4. Your biggest fans
Use window fans in the evening to help suck the cool air into your house.
5. Create suction
Even if the window is big, plug the gaps around the fan for best cooling. you can even do this with the curtain if you have the right setup and material.
6. Protect yourself
Be safe, and know your neighborhood. If you feel uncomfortable with the windows open, you may want to invest in security bars for your windows as well. Only cool parts of the house you’re in beyond about 80-85° during the day. At night, open all areas possible to bring in the cooler outdoor air. The cooler you can get it inside by 5-6am, the cooler your house can stay all day if you play it right.
Obviously, keep your pets in an area where it will be a comfortable temperature for them, and where they will be safe from jumping out a window or door and running away. A baby gate may be necessary to put in front of an open door if your pet wants to bust through the screen and chase stuff, or run away from loud noises, or for any other reason.
Have an energy audit done and seal up your house. Aka winterize and summerize your home! This ranges from windows to doors, to your outlet covers and more. Heat will slowly seep in throughout the day in more ways than you can imagine. Have an expert show you how to minimize this. There are lots of supplies out there for you that you would never have dreamed of! We stick with very low waste options here that are reusable.
Most of the bags you acquire from weatherizing your house will be recyclable with your other plastic bags and film. double check with the grocery store you drop them off at for recycling to find out for sure.
Take good care of your weatherizing window film so that you don’t have to replace it every year. You will save money over the long run but choosing a quality brand that won’t deteriorate in one season. When they are worn out, check with your local plastic bag and film recycler to see if you can recycle them with those items. Most grocery stores and retail shops a have these types of recycle bins. Never put plastic film or bags in with your regular recycle.
9. Cold foods and strategic cooking
Cook lots of food at the same time in the summer to keep the overall long
term heat down. Cooking many things at once or many things in a row this will also get the most out of your oven energy use, because you won’t have to spend the energy or heat reheating your oven over and over. Plan to eat more leftovers in the summer and enjoy the freedom of cooking less often!
Reheating leftovers on the stove will create much less heat than cooking every night. Also, plan meals that do not require heat in the summertime. Your body naturally wants more fresh food in the summer anyways. Think fresh pesto on zucchini noodles, lots of salad, etc. Maybe some raw veggies and hummus for snacking. Make large quantities of food, and reheat as needed to eat. If you make too much, store it in the freezer.
Check out pressure cookers for a heat saving fast cook option beyond the microwave!
10. Water rescue
Utilize the power of water. Wear damp a damp bandana around your neck and/or your wrists. your ankles might appreciate this as well! Get your hair wet. Wear a cool, damp t-shirt. You may also enjoy falling asleep with a dampened sheet over you. It should be dry by morning unless you live in an extremely humid part of the world.
1. Be timeless and classic
That same, age-old advice. Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room, and use as few lights as possible overall, during the daytime especially.
2. Less is less- in a good way
With a few strategic exceptions, just generally try to own less stuff, specifically clothes to wash. Less to research, manufacture, and ship. Less to store, less to toss eventually, less to maintain. Greener.
3. Scrap and donate
Recycle ancient appliances with responsible recyclers, and get energy efficient varieties. Even better: give your old (working) washer and dryer away for free to somebody in need. Use Craigslist or Freecycle or a similar platform to find someone who will happily take your old appliances and use them. Sometimes the “greenest” thing you can do is help another human.
Unplug things that are not being used, or at least things that are not used
often. This actually does reduce your energy use if you do it as a habit long term. Here’s why: If you plug something into an electrical outlet, that cord is going to have electricity running through it, whether or not the appliance is turned on. The same goes for extension cords.
5. Less toxic lighting
LED light bulbs last virtually forever, and use very little energy. I was never one to recommend compact fluorescent bulbs. For a variety of reasons, specifically the toxicity and mercury dangers involved in that technology, I never got off the fence about it. This new LED technology is legit, and lasts even longer for real than all the false claims on compact fluorescent bulbs. But it has different toxins to consider: Lead and arsenic, for example. All in all, USE LESS. See #1. Always use gloves when cleaning up after LED or CFL bulbs.
7. Alternative options
Invest in alternative energy sources for your home like solar and wind! Look into which one is best for you in your situation.
You could start a trend in your neighborhood.
Plant trees on the south side of your house that will drop their leaves in winter. This will provide you shade in summer, and cool your home by never letting it get so hot in the first place! In the winter, the leaves will be gone, and the sun will be in a different position in the sky to help warm your house!
9. Laundry energy
Wash your clothes with cold water, and line dry. The results are in! Most of the time washing in hot water does not get your clothes any cleaner than cold water. Things that may actually benefit from hot water wash are greasy things like workout clothes, extremely dirty (hot water safe) item like dog beds, cleaning rags, and bed sheets for some people. Wash your shirts and pants less, if possible. Run larger loads… but not too large! Overpacking your washer will make everything less efficient, and potentially not even clean your clothes as well.