Get Your Home Ready for Winter – Eco-Style

It’s easy to throw open the closet, grab out your winter snow suit to check and see if it still fits this winter, but what about your home? When did you last see if your home is still fit for winter? A lot of the systems in our houses run all year and if they don’t give us any problems, we leave them well alone. Left to their own devices they may well continue that hassle free service over the winter, but winter has a way of pushing the systems to the limit and causing them to work inefficiently, or even worse, fail.

As our homes age we forget they fall behind in efficiency but as new eco-friendly methods are developed and what may have been a problem last year, may not be a problem this. Take some time each fall and see how well your home measures up to the winter just around the corner. One foundation green principles will always be based on is the, ‘Use it up, wear it out, make it do – or do without’ way of life. By being proactive in winterizing our home we can prepare them so that any possible problems are avoided and minimize your carbon footprint.

HIRE HELP

One of the best ways you can help your home be eco-friendly is to hire a home efficiency consultant and have an energy efficient audit. They will do a complete survey of every inch of your property, finding things you may not have considered to be a problem and suggest improvements for things you know were a problem and that will lighten your energy load. Try and find one with a specialty in natural solutions, or ask if he can find some before he comes. Ask at your local home improvement store if they offer this service as many do, some of them for free.

The tests they run check the areas where cold air can enter the home, for certain types of negative gasses and the filters in your heating systems. Care of your filter during winter is a must to increase the efficiency and reduce energy consumption. Get them to show you where it is and how to clean it. They should also advise on economical fixes in each room as they know what is available, what the real problem is and the correct solution.

Another person to hire is someone for your boiler. By scheduling a professional cleaning and inspection each fall, your furnace will burn cleaner, last longer and save energy. Boilers that are regularly serviced run more efficiently, last longer and add less pollution to the air in your home. While you are there you can check on the insulation on your hot water tank is working well and keeping your water piping hot.

INVEST IN YOUR HOME

There are no ‘two ways’ to look at it, programmable thermostats are an investment in your home. If you do not have a thermostat, or your thermostats are over a decade old, consider in investing in new ones. Programmable thermostats allow you control the temperature of you home on an hour by hour, day by day basis so that if you are regularly not home you can lower the ambient heat and use less energy. If you all have a day engagement like work or school, or during the day only one person is in, the temperature can be set by room so that only what is used is heated. Programmable thermostats are so essential to an eco-friendly home even carbon zero homes have one.

GET INSULATED

If you have less than 20cm of insulation in your roof, the likelihood is that you need to add a bit more. There is a large choice of natural and eco-friendly alternatives to the cotton candy they used to put in walls and ceilings, products like recycled newspaper, organic cotton and even blue jeans are all readily available and work.

GET HIGH UP

Take time out in the lovely fall weather to get out on a ladder and up high to inspect your gutters and downpipes. You need to be sure your rainwater collection is flowing freely as any leaf or other roof debris can cause the water to back up and freeze, and damage your system and your home. Check all outside water sources as any of them can fail if not squeaky clean and insulated properly. Besides, it’s not only green to look after what you have and prolong it’s life, but who wants to be cleaning out the basement knee deep in cold water in the winter?

Whatever you do this fall, make sure you keep your home ready for winter and whatever you find, look for a natural solution to the problem. After a couple of months of snow, ice, cozy warm knowing you have a low carbon footprint – you’ll be glad you did!

Like what we’re doing? Want to share your story or tell others? Do you have a green business in Calgary and want to get in front of a large local audience? Let’s build a green community together!