Green Living January 2019
By Suki Wessling
Question of the month: What do you do to save energy during the cold months?
With the rain coming in, lots of Santa Cruz families start to hunker down.
“Warm socks, extra blankets, windows closed,” says Charlotte Thornbrugh of her family’s approach. “Before we turn on heat, we make sure we’ve done all that.”
Taylor Darling of Santa Cruz Green Builders has some more specific advice about how to make your home more energy-efficient.
“People should start by trying to reduce their energy demand,” he explains. “Here is a partial list, starting with the low hanging fruit, and progressing to more advanced projects.”
Replace old bulbs with LED bulbs that use 1/6 the energy. Most bulbs come in a nice warm 2,700 degree Kelvin light color, equivalent to old incandescent bulbs. LED’s are now very affordable and save a huge amount of energy. You don’t have to replace them for 10 years or more.
Replace old appliances that are not working well. New Energy Star appliances save a huge amount of energy over the long run. The largest energy users are the water heater, space heaters such as forced air heaters or gas fireplaces, and the fridge.
If your house is poorly insulated, add insulation in the attic and floor. If the walls are not insulated, it is a bit more difficult but still very much worth the investment, if insulation can be blown into the walls. This can be done by any local insulation company by drilling small holes in the walls for filling the wall cavities, and then patching and painting them.
Air seal around leaky doors and windows with new weather stripping. It can be tricky to find the right products but is important to keep cold air from pouring in.
Replace single pane windows with well-insulated double pane windows.
Although some of those options are cheap, they do require an investment. But here’s something to try for free:
“Try to slightly change your habits,” Darling explains. “We all know to turn lights off when not in use. But even more effective is to try to take shorter showers (to use less hot water), and wear an extra layer of clothing and some cozy slippers so you can be comfortable with a slightly lower indoor temperature. Heating water for showers and dishes and heating the air use the most energy in a home, by far.”
Changing your kids’ habits is another matter:
“I tell my kids that being cold builds character!” says dad John Edward.
There’s also the solution proposed by mom Vanessa Ashford: “Cuddle ”
Would you like to weigh in on how your family lives a green lifestyle? Do you have a local business that promotes green living? Contact us! [email protected]