Does winter wind and cold make you feel dark and dreary? Brighten up your home as well as your attitude with these tips for a warmer and cozier home without turning up the thermostat and using more energy.
ENERGY SAVING TIPS:
>> Clean dusty light bulbs and dirty light fixtures. Your home can appear 30% brighter without adding more lights.
>> Seal air leaks. Check around windows and doors with a lit scented candle or incense stick to find drafty spots. The scent will leave a welcome scent while you hunt for places where the cold enters. Don’t forget to check around recessed lights, electrical boxes, and wall outlets, especially on exterior walls.
>> Remember that your traditional gas or wood fireplace sucks heated indoor air right up the chimney. Replace with a gel fireplace insert that produces a burning fire without wood, gas, or electricity; your chimney can remain closed. Gel inserts are smoke-free and emit fewer allergens than wood fireplaces. A basic model may cost between $100 and $210; some cost considerably more. Gel fuel can cost about $35 for three hours worth.
>> Prepare dinner in a slow cooker. Your home will smell great, and you’ll be saving energy. Slow cookers typically use less energy than a light bulb.
>> Grow houseplants. Some indoor plants, like gerbera daisies and golden pothos, absorb VOCs, the vapors given off by household cleaners, paints, and dry cleaning. Plants also increase humidity levels, helping to decrease dust.
>> Turn your thermostat to “fan on” when you vacuum. This will help to filter dust that is raised when cleaning. Leave the fan on for about 15 minutes after your vacuuming is complete; then switch the thermostat back to “auto.”
>> Replace your HVAC filter every two months, or monthly if you have pets. This will keep dust from recirculating.
>> Invite copper into your home. The results of a three-hospital study in 2011 reported that bacteria can only survive on copper for a few minutes, but that germs can exist on stainless steel for weeks. Consider copper or copper-alloy brass for your bathroom fixtures or as accents in your kitchen.
>> Wash your windows to avoid mood-altering seasonal affective disorder or the “blahs.” Get more natural light into your home. According to the American Clean Institute, cleaning windows is a “feel-good task”, and “gleaming windows” are among the top five clean surfaces that make people happy, even more than a “spotless sink.”
>> Remove your window screens in the fall and winter when you won’t typically be opening windows anyway. Screens trap dirt and seem to darken your home both inside and out.
>> Consider adding an interior window to a room adjacent to a sunny space, like a sun porch. Paint dark or chilly rooms, especially north-facing ones that don’t enjoy much sunlight, in warm colors like yellows, reds, or orange hues. These colors add warmth according to a Michigan State University study.