3 Tips for A Sustainable Winter Season {A Guest Post from Peace, Love & Travel}

While our urban homestead looked like a brown, crispy 'wonderland' a few weeks ago (and it's a bit more snowy and frosty now), there are still many things to be done to life self-sufficiently and sustainably.


The chickens are still producing, winter gardening can still occur. And while the gardens might not look very inviting, and the rain barrels are empty for the year, Tiffany from Peace, Love, and Travel is going to share some specifics about sustainable living during the colder months of the year.

3 Tips for A More Sustainable Winter Season

The holidays are all about family, friends, and taking time to appreciate all that we have. But sometimes with all the craziness that comes with the holidays, can leave us feeling stressed and burnt out. It’s important to keep reminding yourself of all that you are thankful for. I’ve found that as my family and I have begun to simplify our lives, we’ve come to appreciate more. Living a simpler lifestyle doesn’t have to be daunting. It can be quite simple, starting with small steps to reach your bigger goal. Our goal is to live a more sustainable lifestyle. There are dozens of simple changes you can make right now that will benefit the environment, and your home.

Here are three action items I use to guide my preparations each fall and make sure the house is ready to gracefully withstand the cold weather:


Make sure the heater is prepared, maintained, and working properly.

Have the heating unit in your house professionally serviced at least every two years to keep them free of dust, and ensure that the unit is functioning properly. Clean or replace filters every year. Fall is also a good time to remove floor registers if you have them, vacuuming out dirt, dust, food scraps, and any other debris that may fall them, reducing your heater’s efficiency. This certainly isn’t an every year task, but purchasing energy-efficient appliances in the first place is an excellent way to save money in the long run. Look for the yellow and black EnergyGuide label for estimates on annual energy consumption as you shop, and remember that Energy Star appliances often have rebate offers.

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Search Energy Star’s Rebate Locator to see what’s offered in your Zip code. Also, consider investing in a programmable thermostat and set it to allow the temperature to fall about 5 degrees colder when you’re not at home.


Insulate, insulate, insulate!

It stands to reason that your home will stay warmer if it’s better insulated to keep the warm air in. If your budget and schedule can accommodate the extra work, consider adding another layer of insulation to your walls and attic. Keep in mind that a well-insulated house can use up to 45% less energy for heating and cooling, which will help the new insulation pay for itself! For the “greenest” options, look for cellulose-based spray insulations, treated sheeps wool products, or shredded cotton insulation (some of which are even made out of old blue jeans!)

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To avoid going all the way down to the wall frames, think about reducing drafts around windows and doors. Add rugs to hard floors, especially in high traffic areas, to assist in insulation efforts. Seal up cracks with silicon and swap out your summer curtains for heavy cloth that can help keep the warm air in. You might even consider investing in a window insulation kit, which covers your windows in plastic if they’re too drafty to attempt fixing with sealant. If you’re feeling really ambitious, add insulating tape to your hot water pipes to help reduce heat loss between the water heater and your faucet.


Redecorate and Bring in Some Greenery

Now that the sun is setting earlier, it’s probably a good time to think about your indoor lighting. LED and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs are available for almost all fixtures. They use a fraction of the energy and last up to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs. Match the lumens on the packaging to the lumens (not the wattage) of the incandescent you’re replacing. It’s also a great time to invest in some indoor plant life to help improve the air quality in your home - up to one 10-inch potted plant per 100 square feet of space.


Aloe Vera, Areca Palm, English Ivy, Baby Rubber Plants, and varieties of ferns like the Boston Fern are well-known for purifying the air and removing toxins like benzene (and of course carbon dioxide) from the air. The greenery will also bring in a pop of color during the grab, grey months!

 

Here are some of my favorite, bigger projects happening in the industry:

  • Helping those in need: Brad Pitt founded Make It Right, building eco-friendly homes using Cradle to Cradle design, inspired by architect William McDonough. Make It Right began in the wake of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Brad Pitt visited the New Orleans Lower 9th Ward two years after the storm to find that no rebuilding was being done. Currently there are over 100 sustainable homes completed.
  • Raising awareness: Mark Ruffalo founded Water Defense in 2010. Together with the organization’s chief scientist, Scott Smith, the team works to educate the public about what is actually in their water. The company focuses on industrial spills, over population/ runoff, and pesticides.
  • Educating the youth: Jack Johnson started the Kokua Foundation with wife Kim Johnson that supports environmental education in the schools and communities of Hawaii. The foundation supports programs that involve hands-on learning activities, field trips, and recycling programs.
  • Stand for change: Jessica Alba founded The Honest Company with Christopher Gavigan, to create eco-friendly products that are safe for babies and the home. One of their main goals is to provide transparency to consumers about their products. Jessica Alba began her journey building The Honest Company after experiencing an allergic reaction to a laundry detergent (while pregnant) that was labeled as “safe for babies.”
Tiffany enjoys spending time outdoors and discovering new, fun ways to teach her children about healthy, eco-friendly choices. Originally Tiffany and her husband started a blog to raise awareness around sustainable travel. You can find her at Peace, Love, & Travel.


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