The Nature Wanderer

Stay Warm My Friend

As the cold temperatures grip my region of the country, I yearn for any signs of spring. I’m excited when I smell a skunk, feel the sunshine on my face or notice the hawks locating their mate and pairing up. But for now I have to tolerate the cold a little longer.

In my neck of the woods we spend half the year heating our homes to stay warm. It is just the norm and thus most people don’t think about how heating our homes can be environmentally harmful. We just turn the thermostat up and we’re done. But these energy sucking metal monsters are harming our planet.

Don’t fret however. There are both simple and complex changes that can alter our planet harming heating habits. You may have already implemented some of these. If so, kudos to you. If not, it isn’t too late to make these part of your winter routine.

What “fuel” do you use to heat your home? I have been bombarded with television ads lately promoting “buy a new natural gas furnace to save money on your heating bills. It’s the clean fuel”. Is it clean? The way that natural gas is extracted from the earth and then transported to our homes is not best for our planet. It could be better than coal or oil however.

I heat my house with geothermal energy. Water pumped through the earth brings the warmth of the earth into my house. Zero carbon emissions. No toxic fossil fuels need to be transported into my home.

But you probably don’t want to spend the time of money to replace your furnace. Let’s look at easier and less expensive ways to conserve energy. A simple way to save energy while heating your home is to make certain that your furnace is operating efficiently. Get a furnace “tuneup” at the beginning of the heating season. There are many HVAC companies that offer tuneup specials in the autumn.

Something that you can do yourself is to change the filter on your furnace. During the cold months of winter I change my furnace filter once a month. A dirty filter makes it more difficult to move air through it, thus using more energy to run. Put a reminder on your calendar. Some smart thermostats allow you to set up a schedule by furnace runtime.

Another fairly inexpensive and easy way to save energy is to replace an old thermostat with a smart thermostat or a programmable thermostat. A smart thermostat allows the heat to be turned down when it is not needed. Some smart thermostats actually will detect when you leave the room for an extended period of time and will turn the heat down accordingly. If you don’t want to replace your thermostat, you can turn the heat down manually at night or while you are away.

There is a great debate about turning down a thermostat as it takes more energy to bring the heat back up to a comfortable temperature. Studies have been done on this topic and it has been proven that turning down your thermostat for 8 hours at night will save you money. If you have geothermal heat however, this is not true. Geothermal should always be maintained at a constant temperature because of how the heat pump cycles.

Do these minimal effort tasks to help make your home heating more environmentally friendly. It will not only help the environment, it will help you save money.