Winter has finally arrived. For a lot of people, it’s the start to their own little hibernation. Their mood goes down, the motivation to go out disappears and the spirit of taking social responsibility rests until the snow melts. It can be hard to stay motivated and to keep up good summer habits and keep on behaving environmentally friendly. There are easy steps to stay energy efficient and friendly towards nature however. Prepare your home for winter as the environment does not rest either! Save money and remain cozy by acting now before the bitter cold arrives.

The following guideline reminds you what you can do for yourself and the environment to be prepared for the chilly conditions of winter.

  1. Don’t stop growing: You can still grow a lot of different plants inside. This is a great time of the year to clone some of your outside plants or grow them from seed indoors. Grow herbs on the windowsill! Tomatoes and other plants actually need to be started inside in mid-winter.
  2. Attract birds to your backyard this winter: Provide a bird feeder in a calm location that keeps the seeds dry. In most areas, the best all-around attractant is black-oil sunflower seeds. Take the time to find out whether your feathered visitors prefer seeds or suet.
  3. Run ceiling fans in reverse: Counter clockwise rotation produces cooling breezes, while switching to clockwise makes it warmer. Warm air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space – cutting your heating costs as much as 10 percent!
  4. Reduce waste during the holidays and recycle your Christmas tree: Thousands of paper and plastic shopping bags end up in landfills every year. Tell store clerks you don’t need a bag for small or oversized purchases. After the holidays, look for ways to recycle or reuse your tree instead of sending it to a landfill. The CDN-NDG borough has pick-up scheduled on Wednesdays January 4th and 11th.
  5. Save your ashes: If you have a wood-burning fireplace, save your ashes in a tin instead of throwing them away. Cold wood ashes can be mixed in your compost heap to create a valuable soil amendment that provides nutrients to your garden.
  6. Consider using non-toxic de-icing substances: Chemical de-icers can be hazardous to your pets, your trees and shrubs, and the environment. Antifreeze that leaks from car engines and chemical snow melters on driveways, roads, and runways can pollute surface waters and groundwater through the soil. In addition, many animals are attracted to their salty smell and can be poisoned. Clean clay cat litter, sand, or fireplace/stove ash do not have hazardous chemicals in them.
  7. Use electric snow removal products rather than gasoline-powered ones: While electric products consume energy, they do not emit greenhouse gases (gas powered tools can pollute more than cars!) As alternatives, use snow shovels, ice crackers, and brooms to clear snow from your sidewalk, porch, or driveway.
  8. Buy recycled: Many articles of clothing, such as jackets, scarves, gloves, and boots, are now made from recycled materials. Most fleece products are made from recycled plastic soda bottles, and certain clothing and shoe manufacturers use recycled cotton scraps and rubber tires to make their products. Buying these products helps encourage manufacturers to continue making these products.
  9. Draft proof: Check your house for possible cracks around windows and doors which lead cold air into your house. Seal the cracks up, save on your fuel bill and reduce your home’s carbon footprint. You can seal them with caulk, expanding foam or other suitable materials. It is very easy to make your own draft stopper to lay before the bottom of the door.
  10. Make your house energy efficient: Have a look at the Québec Éconologis Program for low-income residents. They offer a free visit from an advisor and technician, as well as a free specialist’s visit to install your electronic thermostat to improve your comfort. Reducing home energy usage by just 15 percent saves the equivalent of 500 pounds of coal a year, reducing green house gases.
  11. Keep unused rooms closed: Unused rooms can sap the heat of heavily used ones. Don’t waste your energy on rooms you don’t need to heat up. Simply close the door and lay down a draft stopper along the bottom.
  12. Use rugs or slippers in your home: Floors can prickle your feet and make you feel cold faster which leads a lot of people to turn up their heat. Prevent this by keeping your feet protected in slippers. Also, instead of turning up the heat, try to wear another sweater or an extra pair of socks.
  13. Try Mother Nature’s freezer: The next time you go to put your leftovers in the deep freeze, take a moment to consider the benefits of storing some things outside. Deep freezers eat up an average of 750 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. For 4-6 months of the year, it’s usually colder outside, and the energy draw is zero. Try making use of cooler temperatures outdoors or in your garage to save energy. Just remember to seal the food well as animals may be attracted!

By Yannick (intern at Eco-quartier NDG)

Source: Alumni Exhibits