Winter is a beautiful time of the year. The bright
blanket of ice and snow covering everything, the soft crunch of snow beneath
your feet, the warmth of sitting under a cozy blanket or in front of a fire,
the warm spices that flavor and scent practically everything. As wonderful as
winter can be, it also can mean higher heating and other utility bills and a
bigger carbon footprint. The good news is that with a few small changes you can
do your part to save the environment no matter how cold it gets this winter.
1. Insulate Windows and Doors
If you feel major drafts around
your outside windows and doors you should notify property management to take a
look at them, but even the most efficient windows and doors will most likely
have some draftiness. Some inexpensive draft stoppers or rolled up towels can
help with that and keep the warmth inside where it belongs. This will also help
in the summer months when you want to keep the heat outside.
2. Use the Sun
As you’re aware, the sun
produces heat. This is true even in the winter when it’s cold outside, so keep
that in mind and use it to your advantage. The days may be shorter, but if you
leave your drapes and blinds open when the sun is out it’ll help heat your rooms
naturally. Similarly, in the summer months you can keep your drapes and blinds
closed during the day to stop the sun from overheating the rooms.
3. Program Your Thermostat
If you’re like most Americans,
you’re away at work for the majority of the day and you have a fairly set
schedule of when you leave and come back during the week. Take a look at your
thermostat and learn how to program it (most thermostats are fairly intuitive when
it comes to this). Set the heat to turn down shortly after you leave for the
day, then turn back up 30-45 minutes before you usually get back. You won’t
notice a difference, but your utility bill sure will! Keep this in mind during
the A/C months, too!
1. Watch Your Water and Electricity Usage
This is as simple as being more
conscious of when you’re using water and energy. Turn off lights you’re not
using and don’t let the water run as you’re doing the dishes and brushing your
teeth. Also be more aware of how long your showers are, as each minute in the
shower uses an average of 2.1 gallons of water. If you have a leaky faucet or
running toilet let your property management know right away.
2. Maximize Appliance Efficiency
Most appliances nowadays are
built to be energy efficient, but most do need a little help from you to
maximize that efficiency. Keep dust from accumulating too much by regularly
cleaning drier vents and the coils and fan at the back of the refrigerator. Dishwashers
can accumulate buildup as well, so every few months or so (or whenever you
start to see that buildup) it’s a good idea to run a cleaning agent. You also
want to make sure you’re only running full loads of laundry and dishes instead
of wasting water on half loads.
3. Change Your Lightbulbs and Use Power Strips
On average about 5% of the American
household’s energy budget is lighting. By using more energy-efficient bulbs you
can save both energy use and electricity cost. You can also cut back on usage
by plugging into a power strip and shutting off devices from that. Many electronic
devices like gaming consoles, cable boxes, and smart TVs go into a power save
mode instead of shutting completely off, which means they’re constantly using
electricity even if you’re not aware of it.