Ready, Steady Snow! These green living tips will have you saving:
- The planet (like a boss)
- Fistfuls of money on utilities
- Face by earning mad bragging rights about your reduced carbon footprint.
Gutters: Clean all those fall leaves out soon or get a gutter guard so you don’t have to worry about it. When snow melts during the day and freezes at night. If your gutters are clogged, the resultant ice dam pushes up under the roofing and causes cracks and leaks.
Fandom: Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to help evenly distribute heat in your home. Ceiling fans should be moving in a counterclockwise direction in the summer to create a downdraft for a cooling breeze. In winter it needs to move in a clockwise direction to create an updraft and circulate warm air around the room.
DIY energy audit: Know where you are losing energy and get the most bang for your winterizing buck. Save even more by doing an energy audit yourself. Here’s a little DIY from the Department of Energy.
Leak your lizards: Drain all outdoor hoses like the garden hose, the AC hose etc. If you have exposed pipes, wrap them in insulation to prevent them from bursting.
Programmable thermostats: Don’t have one? Get thee to the hardware store stat! Using a programmable or set-back thermostat will lower the indoor temperature while you are at work or when you are sleeping so you can save 20-75% of your operating costs.
Deal with dead branches: Cut dead or dying limbs from the trees around your home or the weight of winter snow may have them crashing down on you.
Snow Workout: Leave your snow blower in the shed and get a snow shovel pusher instead. Shoveling your snow reduces the carbon footprint of your snow blower while giving you a great workout!
Fix your furnace: Get your vacuum out and clean your furnace and filters and suck up any dust around the coil. Change your filters regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions to maintain good air quality and keep your furnace efficient. Check the outside flue to ensure that no vegetation or nesting birds are causing obstructions. Walk around your home and ensure that all the vents are free from obstruction.
Check your ducts for leaks and fix them with metal-backed tape (Note: ironically, this may be the only thing in the world for which duct tape is not the answer.) You can lose up to 60% of your heat when you have leaky ducts.
Take the cover off the air handler and check your blower belt. Replace if cracked or frayed. A few drops of oil on the moving parts won’t hurt while you’re at it! If you want to save yourself a couple of bucks with a full furnace makeover, see a step-by-step guide from the Family Handyman here.
For a good time…. caulk your home: According to the Earthworks Group, the average home has cracks that can add up to a 9 square foot hole in the wall; that’s 5-30% of your heating lost. Caulk up cracks, holes and gaps, paying particular attention to plumbing, windows and other openings. For larger leaks, find yourself a good Los Angeles-based plumber who can fix them for you.
Seal the deal: Check rubber seals around doors to ensure that cold air isn’t coming in. For a cheap fix, sew a draft snake to keep the breeze out. Get a pattern from the Daily Green.
Windows: Double-paned are best, but if you need a cheaper fix, cover windows with bubble wrap or plastic window wrap which you can get from your local hardware store.
Get an ERV: Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) systems utilize heat from the furnace exhaust system to heat outdoor air before it comes into your home. This means you save a whopping 70% and 80% of the heat from the exhausted interior air while keeping indoor humidity at a comfortable 40% to 50%.
Tax cuts: Get tax cuts when you make improvements to your home that help conserve energy.
- For Canada: Get an updated list of all tax rebates here.
- For the US: Check up on rebates in your area here.
Now would also be a great time to check your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Nothing bums you out and adds to your carbon footprint like your house burning down. So bring it on, winter, we’ve got this.