Alternative Ways to Keep Warm in the Winter
With winter coming, you may find yourself thinking of alternative ways of heating your home. Standard ways of heating your home can make up half of your monthly bills! Luckily, there are great options for those of us who would rather spend money on warm chocolate lattes than warming our house once temperatures drop.
The following are great ways to save money and energy during the winter months:
Biodiesel is an alternative oil that can be used to heat your homes. Yes, this is the same biodiesel that caused the used cooking oil phenomenon in the early 2000’s. It has been used for almost a decade to power cars and can also heat a house as well as any other heating method. It burns clean and recycled cooking oil makes less carbon than diesel. Naturally, it can be seen as the next major change in how people heat their homes.
Before you decide to change to biodiesel, you need to decide if you want to use a biodiesel blend (which is a blend of biodiesel and petroleum) or just pure biodiesel to heat your home. There are many different blends of biodiesel. When calculating the blend, the percentage of biodiesel used is how the name of the blend is derived. For example 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum would be called a B20 blend. If you decide to use anything higher than a B20 blend in your home, you will need to make sure that your home heating system has the proper modifications to withstand using biodiesel.
Play Hide and Seek
No, we don’t mean gather your kids in the living room. The goal of this game is to find all of the hidden sources in your house of inefficient insulation. Many people don’t even realize that they lose heat in their homes due to drafts in their houses. Check your windows and doors for any possible cracks. The best way to do this is to walk through your house with a tea light around places that you suspect a draft may be present. If your candle flickers, there is a draft nearby. Seal it up immediately using silicone caulking, foam sealant, or weather stripping.
Passive Solar Heating
Once you have checked to make sure that all of your drafts have been taken care of, you can take advantage of the sunny days! Trap the heat of the sun inside of your house when it is bright and sunny outside. Make sure that you keep your windows clean—dirt and grime are the enemy. They block out the warmth that you want to invite in.
Another great way to make the most of sunny days is by using a mirror. If you place them strategically around your house, the sunbeams and heat can bounce from the windows to different walls within a room. It’s all science, really! Each mirror acts like an extra sun bringing in a bit more heat into your room. This works well in rooms that get lots of sunlight in the winter which, in North America, are usually facing south. Make sure to insulate your room with carpeting. Bare floors will only cause the heat to escape quickly.
Window Box Solar Collectors
Most people haven’t heard of window heaters. However, they are quite popular in the DIY and sustainability communities. For the price of a week’s worth of coffees, you can find yourself combatting winter’s frigid air.
Solar collectors work in the same way that mirrors and solar panels do. They use the sun’s south facing rays to heat your house. You can make your own solar collector in less than two hours. Plans and blueprints can be bought for under $30.
Electrical fireplaces have become popular in recent years. Unlike traditional fireplaces or wood burning stoves, there is little maintenance involved in using them. They are easy to install and can be found in any major furniture/hardware store. You can find electrical fireplaces to match pre-existing decor.
If you use your electric fireplace to heat your room, it would cost about 18 cents an hour. Most can be plugged into a standard wall outlet and generate enough heat to keep a room warm.
Every Little Bit Counts
Always make sure to reinforce your heating by doing two things: keep your floors covered and use energy efficient window coverings. By using insulated curtains and those specifically made to trap heat, your house will stay warmer. Always make sure to keep your curtains closed at night. This also helps to keep warm air in.
If by chance you are cooking or baking, keep your oven open for an extra five to ten minutes. The heat will circulate through the kitchen, warming it. The same can be done in the bathroom once a bath or shower has been taken. After your bath, keep the water in the tub and close the door. Keep the water in the tub for as long as it is warmer than the temperature of the air. This method can keep a bathroom toasty warm for up to an hour.
Put it in Reverse
Many people don’t realize that ceiling fans can help to warm your house as well! Typically used in warmer months, ceiling fans are a staple in many homes. If you look at the top of your fan, you should be able to see a “winter” setting. This makes your fan rotate clockwise instead of counterclockwise. Heat rises. When the fan spins clockwise, this helps to push the heat back down into your room. It is recommended to spin your fan at a low speed so cool air isn’t being blown (which can happen if it is spinning too fast) but the fan is gently pushing the warmth back down to the surface.
There should be no reason to find yourself with popsicle toes or pauper’s pockets this winter. With the heightened cost of oil and other heating sources, not only will you reduce your carbon footprint by using these methods but you will also find yourself in a sunny disposition with the possibility of saving money this winter.