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Once November arrives, a good portion of the country, from the Upper Northwest straight across to the Northeast, prepare for a hibernation of sorts and surviving through the next four or five months of snow and cold. If you’re an eco-minded individual or are trying to reduce your carbon footprint, you may find it easier to during warmer seasons, but here are some ways to continue being eco-friendly during the winter:
Winterizing Your Home
Each winter homes across the U.S. struggle with high heating bills. Not only can high heating costs put a big dent in your wallet, but it’s often a good indicator that your home is not adequately winterized. Here are some tips for winterizing:
Inspect and Improve Insulation: If you’re home has lost a lot of valuable insulation over the years, you are wasting natural resources and losing money. Hire a professional to inspect your home’s insulation and add more or replace where needed. These days, insulation is much more environmentally friendly.
Fill in Cracks: Whether you have cracks in the foundation or in the seals around your windows. If you notice cracks around the foundation, straw bales can keep the wind and cold out and you can use them year after year or use them in your garden or compost pile, when the weather gets warmer.
Programmable Thermostat: Some homes have no thermostat or only manual thermostats. By installing a programmable one, you can set the temperature and not have to worry about it while you’re at work or on vacation. Bonus: Some programmable thermostats can be controlled by your smartphone, for optimum energy efficiency.
Your Yard, Sidewalks, and Driveway
Sidewalk de-icer is a quick way to get dangerous ice off of your sidewalk and driveway, but it can also but it can be hazardous to the health of your pets, plants, and the environment. Look for non-toxic de-icing products such as sand, clay, and cat litter. Another way to be more eco-friendly outdoors is by reducing your reliance on gas-powered snow removal (i.e. snowblowers). Try electric versions or use a shovel whenever you can.
Growing trees can keep your house warmer during the winter, as it protects from wind, and an added bonus is that it keeps your home cooler in the summer. If you use a fireplace, save the ashes to help make a more nutrient rich soil.
If your family has a tradition of putting up holiday lights or getting a tree to decorate, you may soon realize that it’s not a environmentally-friendly tradition. If you love to cut down your own tree, make sure you go to a sustainable tree farm rather than purchasing one with unknown farming practices. Avoid purchasing a tree that has been sprayed to make it look more green and skip the plastic netting. Consider decorating a potted tree in your home, instead.
If you have an artificial tree, try to make a commitment to using it for a lifetime, as it’s made of plastic and becomes a pile of rubble in the landfill, rather than decomposing and giving back to the soil. For decorating with lights, consider having your lights on a time and check out solar powered or LED lights.