The Polar Vortex has left parts of the country enduring bitterly cold weather. Even the pictures made me want to snuggle up under a blanket and be grateful it is only -2 C here.
I grew up in an 18th-century English farmhouse and am familiar with chilly winters, but we were prepared for the weather with wool sweaters, long socks, hot water bottles, woollen blankets and wrist warmers. Finally, we took a “good, brisk walk” if all else failed to warm us up.
These are all inexpensive, eco-friendly ways to avoid turning up the heating. It was somewhat of an endurance game for my parents see how long we could manage without pressing ‘boost’ on the boiler.
Few can dispute that reducing energy consumption is financially and environmentally wise. Here are some suggestions to help you reach that goal:
Invest in a vest. A vest is an inexpensive way to keep warm. Inside Out Boutique has a selection of vests. Put on a sweater rather than turning up the heating to 20 C.
Only boil the water you need. It sounds silly, but if you boil too much each time you boil the kettle, you are wasting electricity. Save excess boiling water in a thermos and use throughout the day.
Keep your freezer full. It is more efficient to have a full deep freeze. To fill empty space in your freezer, fill plastic milk bottles with water and place them in there.
Unplug cords from the wall. It’s too easy to plug your phone charger into the wall and then unplug the phone once it’s reached full power, but don’t forget to unplug the charger from the wall too!
Set your thermostat to 17 C. If you feel chilly at night, put a blanket on your bed, wear bed socks and use a hot water bottle.
Only wash clothes when you have a full load. Ideally, also wash on cold for most washes. Few things need a hot wash, as soap cleans whether the water is cold or hot. While we’re on the topic of laundry…
Get a drying rack and plan washes. A tumble dryer costs money, yet if you dry similar fabrics together, you can slightly reduce the amount of electricity used. Clean the lint pocket each time you use it, as this improves airflow and lowers energy consumption. We don’t use a dryer but have two heavy-duty clothes-drying racks. Home Hardware sells them. I can hang a load of washing on them and dry everything for free in 24 hours!
Deal with drafts and insulate where you can. If you own your own home then insulation is the answer. It may seem like a big investment but it pays off. An eco-friendly option is recycled cotton insulation from Bonded Logic. The company makes insulation batts out of shredded, pre-loved cotton sheets, jeans or towels treated with borax.
Put a lid on it! When cooking, use a lid and turn down the heat once it starts to boil. Cut vegetables into smaller pieces to speed cooking time. Invest in a slow cooker; they not only make your life easy having supper ready when you get back from work, but they use very little electricity. The Whistler Public library has lots of slow cooker recipe books.
Here's to a winter with a bit more snow!
Joanna writes for www.ActualOrganics.com and is the author of The Radiant Woman’s Handbook, available at Armchair Books.