11/26/2008

Seeing Green This Winter



Even though I always get the winter time blues, this year my goal is to save some green while being green this winter. I'm thinking of not just the usual home energy costs, but beyond as well. There are so many wasteful things we do every winter so here is my list of ways to save.

  • Thermostat- Our house does not have programmable thermostats and I miss them. This year we will be getting new ones to help cut back on our heating cost.
  • Down a Notch- Our first winter up north after moving from the far south was a tough one. I was freezing if the house temp dropped below 72 degrees. As our family's bodies have adapted to the climate we have slowly dropped the winter temp in our house. Every degree lower does (obviously) save you money. We have also turned off the heaters in the bathrooms and the kitchen. If you have an unused room you might want to also consider not heating it as well. Every bit counts.


  • Caulk- I think Mr. NtJS is starting to despise caulking. It is so important to make sure your windows are not drafty but also check your attic to make sure that all places for air to escape have been properly sealed.
  • Curtains- If you have an older, draftier home consider making some heavy full bodied curtains. When the sun is shining on a window open the curtains to let the sun warm the house. When it's not sunny leave them closed to help keep the warmth from escaping. Going one step further. If you live in a really, really old and drafty house the cold air could be coming through the walls. We had that growing up. When I would wake up on really cold days, there would be frost on the walls in my bedroom. Now that is cold! To help with that problem you can hang large "decorative" quilts and blankets on your walls. This will help keep the draft down as well.
  • Boiler- Our boiler is the original 1964 model - a classic! It still works but it is on it's last leg. Even though a new boiler would be a lot more efficient saving us money on the heating bill, it would cost us a LOT upfront. After discussing it with our boiler repairman last year when one of the water pumps went out, we decided it would be best to wait until the boiler started leaking or died a "natural" death. When the day comes, we do have money saved up that can be put towards the boiler and it will pay for itself in the long run as long as we live in the same house for many years.
  • Netflix- save time, gas, and money by not going to the movie theater or the video store.
  • Gifts- This is a big drain on our budget. Not only do I plan ahead for the usual people but I also plain on four "extra" gifts. It seems like there is always a person who I feel like I need a gift for at the last minute.
  • De-clutter- While trapped inside it's a great time to start going through your house room by room and setting aside garage sale items for the spring and freecycling your other unloved items.
  • Gardening- Sound weird? The best time to start your garden is in the winter. Well, actually it is the best time to start planning your garden. What you are going to plant where. It's also a great time to start seedlings indoors.
  • Soup- Nothing feels better on a cold winter day then a hot bowl of soup. Soup also makes my wallet feel better. Soups and stews are great ways to make your food dollars stretch.
  • Preventative Care- The best way to save money when hit with the winter bugs is to not get them. I'm willing to spend the money up front on healthy foods and supplements to avoid having kids miss school.
  • Freezing- If you have put up a lot of frozen fruits and veggies over the summer you will notice your freezer will start to empty fairly fast if you are anything like our family. The more open space in your freezer the more it costs to cool it. My solution is to make extra casseroles and other meals to freeze. This warms up my kitchen keeping my heating bill a little lower, fills my freezer, and then when I use them in the summer it helps keep my kitchen a little cooler taking less energy to keep us cool on a hot day.
  • Christmas lights- Mr. NtJS spends a little too much time and gets a little too much enjoyment out of programming the timer each year for the Christmas lights. Then again, it is a rather complex product with too few buttons. Anyways, I do appreciate the effort each year when I see the neighbor's over-the-top display left on all hours of the night. Ours only come on after dark, off again at bed time. Sometimes, just for fun, they'll kick on for an hour in the morning when it's time to go to work and school. Like I said, a little too much enjoyment in the programming.
  • Bartering- Our neighbor has a plow blade and some time on his hands in the winter. We have loads of delicious home-canned goods in the basement. For a few jars of of our home-made apple pie filling, some peach butter, and some pear preserves, we get our abnormally long driveway plowed after every snow. Not a bad deal, eh?
  • Junk in the trunk- This may not be what you think. A few hundred pounds of ballast over the rear axle of your rear-wheel-drive car or truck will increase your grip and keep those wheels from spinning so much. Try a few bags of softener salt (if you have a softener) or rock salt. Add as needed. I like to use rock salt as if all else fails, a handful can melt that ice or snow and get me in contact with the pavement again. Spinning your wheels wastes a lot of gas.
This list will not make you rich but it should help you make some cheap or free changes to your life that will keep you from going broke - and maybe out of the ditch - this winter.

What "green" things do you do in the winter to save some green money?

1 comments:

Rebecca (Green Baby Guide) said...

We just got a new furnace, and the guy who installed it said that you'll save money and energy by keeping all the doors and vents open rather than shutting doors and vents on the rooms you're not using. It has to do with the efficiency of the furnace. (I have a longer explanation if you want more details!) A call to the gas company confirmed that his advice was sound. I am not sure if this is good advice if you have a boiler, but the lady at the gas company said it is true for anyone with forced air heat.

We keep our thermostat at 64 degrees in the daytime and 59 at night. I'm curious to see what we end up paying for heating now that we have our super-efficient furnace!

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