If you live in an area with a cold climate, you know just how important it is to stay warm during the winter. However, keeping your entire house warm and toasty throughout the entire winter requires a significant output of energy.
If you care deeply about the environment, and you want to reduce your environmental impact, you might consider cutting back on traditional heating strategies.
So what are the best environmentally friendly ways to stay warm this winter?
Invest in a Fireplace
You may not immediately consider a fireplace as an eco-friendly way to keep your house warm, but fireplaces have significant advantages over other forms of heat. For starters, they provide heat only to one specific area, rather than attempting to heat your entire house. If you spend most of your time in the living room, you can use the fireplace to stay warm rather than cranking the furnace and heating thousands of square feet.
On top of that, some scientists believe that burning wood is actually carbon neutral, Meaning the impact on the environment is relatively neutral. If you’re not convinced by that argument, you should be aware that fireplaces burn a variety of different fuel types; if you don’t want wood, you can convert to an electric fireplace or use natural gas or propane.
Use Space Heaters (and Close the Doors)
Again, it’s possible to stay warm consistently throughout the winter without having to heat your entire house. If you consistently heat only one or two rooms, rather than heating the entire building, you’re going to greatly reduce your energy expenditure without sacrificing your comfort. For that reason, space heaters are some of the best investments you can make. Wherever you spend the most time, close the door, turn on a space heater, and dial back the thermostat for the rest of your house.
Time Your Thermostat Adjustments
Be smart about when and how you adjust your thermostat. Generally, keeping the temperature lower is going to result in less energy expenditure, reducing your utility bills and your environmental impact simultaneously. When you’re away from the house, and when you’re sleeping, you’re not going to see the benefits of a warm house, so turn back the temperature on the thermostat during these periods of time – and only turn it up when you really need it.
Upgrade Your Insulation (and Seal Pesky Cracks)
Better insulation can dramatically reduce your energy expenditure. Thick layers of insulation in your home make heat transfer slower and less efficient, meaning your house gets warmer and stays warmer much more easily. You don’t have to tear down your house and rebuild it to enjoy better insulation; blown insulation is relatively cheap and easy to install.
Along similar lines, it’s important to look for and seal any pesky cracks or holes in your house. Even a small crack alongside a window can result in a massive heat leak that drives up your utility costs.
Dress in Layers
One simple solution to staying warm in the winter is to dress in layers. Putting on a thick sweater, rather than turning up the temperature on your thermostat, can keep you toasty without putting an extra burden on your furnace. Similarly, when you go to bed, you can lay down with an extra thick comforter or a second blanket to keep yourself warm throughout the night.
Exercising in the cold has many advantages. But one of the most important advantages is that it makes you feel warmer. You’re using your muscles actively, you’re stimulating blood circulation, and you’re focused on something other than how cold you are. After a workout, you’ll likely feel warmer throughout the rest of the day – especially if you follow up with a hot shower.
But make no mistake, you don’t need to be a diehard exercise enthusiast to stay active and see the benefits of physical activity throughout the winter. Even simple activities like walking around the house and cleaning can provide similar benefits.
Eat Warm Foods
Finally, consider eating more warm foods. Drink coffee or tea, have a bowl of hot soup, and eat your dinner while it’s fresh and steaming. After consuming a hot meal, you’ll instantly feel warmer – and you’ll likely stay warmer for an hour or longer after you’re finished eating.
Similarly, some people find themselves warming up after eating spicy foods, so consider throwing some extra jalapeno peppers in your next winter meal.
All of us want to stay warm in the winter, but we don’t need to maximize our furnace usage to do it. Even simple steps, like dressing in extra layers and eating hot foods, can make a major impact in how consistently warm we feel.