Winter can be beautiful, but it’s also typically the time of year where energy demands become greater. Depending on where you live, you might be running your furnace more often. Because it gets darker earlier, you also might have your lights on more each day. That doesn’t even count the lighted decorations you put up at the holidays!
The average kWh per month for a standard home is 706 in the winter and 505 in the summer. Using that extra energy isn’t just bad for your wallet, it causes more stress on the environment.
You might not be able to match your summer energy usage in the winter. But, there are things you can do to cut back (and save a little money in the process!)So, what can you do to save energy this winter and live more sustainably?
1. Let the Sun Shine In
It can seem like there’s very little daylight in the winter. It gets darker earlier and stays darker longer. If you want to save energy but you need more light, the best thing you can do is to let the sun in.
During the day, opening your blinds/curtains in each room will let in as much natural light as possible. On extra sunny days, this can also help to heat your house, so you won’t be as dependent on your furnace. At night, closer your curtains again to keep the warmth inside and colder air from coming in.
Exposing your home to more sunlight won’t just cut down on your electric bills. It can also help you to beat the winter blues. It’s estimated that 5% of adults suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Spending more time in the sunlight each day can help you to fight the symptoms of that disorder so you can get through the season healthily.
2. Make Energy-Efficient Investments
Now is a perfect time of year to make sustainable upgrades to your home – especially if you’re tired of high energy bills. You can reduce your carbon footprint by investing in:
- Energy-efficient lighting, electronics, and appliances
- An energy-efficient HVAC system
- Recycling bins for the home
- A hybrid vehicle
- Renewable energy sources like solar panels
Another option is to install some smart home devices, like a smart thermostat. It can be controlled from your phone, so you can leave it a bit cooler in your home when you’re not there, and turn it up a few degrees about 30 minutes before you arrive. You’ll cut back on energy waste and still return home to comfort and warmth.
While some of these are more costly investments than others, it’s important to think about the long-term benefits. Your energy bills will dip down quite a bit, and you’ll eventually make your investment back while doing something good for the planet.
3. Change Your Routine
One of the worst things about winter is that it can throw off your natural circadian rhythms. You might start to feel exhausted when it gets dark at 5 p.m. One of the ways you can combat that exhaustion and reduce your energy usage is to go to bed a bit earlier.
Don’t force yourself to stay up late just because you think you “have to”. If your circadian rhythm is telling you that you’re tired earlier, listen to it! Wake up earlier in the morning and enjoy more sunlight. It’s a great “trick” to make you feel like your days are longer, thanks to experiencing more hours of natural light.
There are many small ways to cut back on energy usage throughout the winter, so feel free to get creative. Consider it a challenge to save energy and money, and get the whole family involved so you can take pride in your green winter season.
Author: Noah Rue