Green Living: Winter Tips
This piece was written back in 2014, during my time as a Conservation Advocate with the Kootenai Environmental Alliance (KEA). The KEA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho promoting good stewardship of our natural resources and informing the public on issues relating to conservation. Here is the KEA’s mission statement, as per their website kealliance.org.
To conserve, protect and restore the environment, with a particular emphasis on the Idaho Panhandle and the Coeur d’Alene basin.
With the first snowfall comes increased energy needs. Daily tasks like shoveling our yards, heating our homes, and simply driving around, require us to use more resources to live comfortably through these dark and cold months. Living sustainably during the winter months, at times, may seem like a challenging task. Yet nothing is impossible and there are plenty of ways to help you reduce your overall costs and your footprint.
Everyone likes a warm and cozy home, but no one likes the energy bill that results from this luxury. With these steps, you can help reduce the cost of heating your home by improving your home’s overall efficiency.
Improve your home’s ability to retain heat:
- Install heavy curtains in front of your windows – conservative estimates of heat loss from windows can range from 12-30%, while even older windows can lose up to 40%.
- If you live in an older house, seal up the cracks around your home! Items that you will need include: weather stripping (for windows & doors), gap filler (to fill cracks in the walls), and a door snake (to stop air from escaping).
- Installing pelmets above your curtains will help reduce heat loss through the window. A quick DIY for a pelmet – place a heavy towel on top of your curtain rod.
- Probably the quickest way for you to save money – close the doors! Any room that is not in use, simply close the door so you don’t waste energy heating it.
- If your home has a fireplace, make sure to invest in a fireplace damper. Your fireplace damper over time will warp and starts to leak cold air, by using something like a chimney balloon, you create a seal in the fireplace that prevents cold air from coming in. Or simply sealing the area with blankets can help to minimize cold air!
Now that your home has been “locked down”, it’s time to tackle the mess that the snow and freezing weather left you outside. There are plenty of little ways to help you keep your paths clear at home and reduce your impact on the environment. Typically rock salt is used to de-ice our sidewalks, yet we know that salt, over time, is harmful to plant life.
Green up outdoor upkeep:
- Rather than using rock salt, consider switching over to beet juice! The City of Coeur d’Alene uses beet juice to deice major roadways. Beet juice deicer is a mix of sugar beet juice mixed with salts. The beet juice salt brine mixture is shown to perform well when exposed to direct sunlight and in areas of high traffic (applied friction to the mixture creates a chemical reaction that heats up thus keeps paths clear of ice)
- Add traction to your paths. Sand, bird seed, kitty litter- all of these will add traction on snowy/icy paths. Consider using native species seeds (there is a possibility some of the seeds may even survive!)
While these are only just a few of the many ways to help green up your winter, these methods should help you get the most out of your resources this snowy season!