What people don’t realize about Atlanta is that it gets COLD here. I was stuck down town for three days during the great freeze of 2010 (I like to call it that because it sounds like I’m 95 years old reminiscing about the bad old days). During the winter there are a ton of ways to keep your house warm without breaking the bank or bringing harmful chemicals and such into your home. http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/winterize-home-poisoning-family.html has some really creative and cheap ways to make it through the winter without turning into a human popsicle.
1. Consider using green alternatives to traditional insulation. There are several options including cellulose and spray foam.
2. Learn from the old timers! Plant evergreens close to your home and consider planting a windbreak on your property. A windbreak can save up to 30% in energy costs.
3. Your attached garage can add to the difficulty in heating your home. It is a large, unheated space that usually shares a wall with either the kitchen or the den. Either way, keeping it warm helps keep the whole house warm. Take a look at the instructions to make this garage solar heater.
4. Install a permanent furnace filter to save waste and to keep your air clean.
5. Wrap the windows in plastic to keep out those arctic blasts.
6. You can also use bubble wrap to cover your windows. The air in the bubbles helps to insulate even more.
7. Sew a draft stopper
8. Install weather stripping
9. Use non-vinyl blackout curtains to trap the heat in and keep the cold out.
10. Add a door sweep to each exterior door.
11. Head to your local feed store and buy straw bales to place around the foundation of your home. This will block cold air and help keep the floors warmer, especially if you have pier and beam.
12. Have your furnace serviced to make sure that it is running properly and safely.
13. Check the duct-work where it is exposed. Our house is old and pier and beam and all the duct work is under the house. Over the course of a year raccoons and other visitors may pull at it, tear it, or loosen it from the registers. We almost always have to repair a few ducts.
14. While you are checking the duct-work consider insulating it as well. This helps keep the heated air warm as it moves through unheated spaces under the house or in the attic.
15. Reverse the direction on your ceiling fans. This will push the hot air down and help it recirculate through out the house.
16. Install foam insulation gaskets around your electrical outlets and keep the outlets covered when not in use.
17. Installing storm doors and windows can save you up to 45% on your energy bill.
18. Move furniture off your vents.
19. Consider these high efficiency heating tips.
20. Cover your water heater with an insulating blanket. Here is a video by Sierra Club that shows you how.
21. If you have an old fashioned radiator use a fan to help spread the warm air and a put a reflector behind it.
22. Buy organic cotton thermal long johns for everyone in the family.
24. Wear layers of clothing made from breathable organic fabrics.
25. Eat soups to help keep your body temperature up.
26. Shut the door on rooms you don’t use, if there are any.
27. If you live in an old house, live in it the way they used to. We have a fireplace in the kitchen and a kitchen door. We spend many winter days around the kitchen table with the fireplace crackling (we have had a lot of trees fall the past year) and the door closed. We keep the heat to the other areas of the house very low.
28. Improve the air quality of your home. Sealing your thermal envelope too tightly can be dangerous if you don’t look out for your air quality. Get a heat recovery ventilator if you seal your house up tight.
29. Grow some herbs and vegetables inside. Not only are they great to add to soups and stews but plants filter toxins out of the air.
30. Open the curtains on the south/west side of the house during the day to get the most of the sun’s warmth. Close up at night to keep out the cold.
31. Cold feet? Put a little ground cayenne or ginger in your socks. You can do the same with mittens but don’t do this with small children. If a finger goes into an eye it is painful!
32. Put hot baked potatoes wrapped in a piece of flannel in your bed about 15 minutes before you plan to get in it. Your bed will be warm and you will have potatoes ready to make hash browns at breakfast.
33. Another old fashioned fix it to hang a thick curtain in front of the door. Use the round hangers and you can easily push it aside to open the door.
34. If you have a two story house the upstairs will always be warmer than the downstairs. Plan on spending more time up there.
35. Bake bread. It is fun, it warms up the house, and it tastes great
And I would like to add what I tell my family every year, don’t dress like you are on a tropical island, put on a sweater, sock and even a light stocking cap to warm up at home.