As the even temperatures of fall are replaced by the frigidness of winter, it becomes more of a struggle to keep our homes and families sustainable and running efficient. And the run up to Christmas can be a particular challenge, thinking of how to celebrate and be sustainable at the same time.

However, if we keep a few important tips in mind…

we can easily enjoy not only a more sustainable winter and holiday season, but also a more cost-efficient one.
As we prepare for record lows this year, consumers are constantly searching for the best way to sustainably heat their homes.

The most important winter sustainability mantra is to turn down your thermostat and turn up your layers. Get cuddly with those favorite fuzzy slippers and matching wool sweater. Knock the temperature down to a base of 68 degrees to keep your home more energy-efficient. At night, unpack your down comforter and lower temperatures even further to 55 degrees, and enjoy savings of upwards of 20% on your next energy bill. If you can tolerate lower temperatures that is even better.

To keep the savings even higher, make sure your house is keeping the most heat in.

While installing extra insulation is the best method—well insulated housing uses up to 45% less energy for both heating and cooling—there are less costly sustainability techniques. Make sure your insulation is up to scratch and also made from sustainable resource.

Nearly 40% of your home’s heat escapes by way of uncovered windows.

Cover these heat vacuums with heavy, layered curtains that extend the full length of your window frame. During the day, take care to free any curtains from windows that might otherwise receive direct sunlight which will bring in warmth and brighten your day too. In addition to sealing windows, go through your house and check for any and all other possible causes of hot air leaks. Apply adhesive weather stripping to your doors, and use caulk to seal up any gaps around pipes, vents, and electrical conduits snaking through the walls, ceilings, and floors.

And, above all, close up your chimney!

Heat rises, and improperly sealed chimneys are a major inefficient heating blunder.And in strong winds you will see debris and dust come down your chimney and most certainly feel that cold air being forced into your room too.

If you plan on lighting up your chimney, consider supplementing your log-burning with newspaper logs. Newspaper logs are made by first rolling individual newspaper sheets around a broom stick, dowel or similar wooden sphere. Keep adding newspapers until you’ve built your log up to a desired girth, and then soak the whole thing thoroughly in water. Finally, let your recycled log dry overnight and it’ll be ready to fire the following evening.

Sustainability Alternatives for Christmas

On the heels of winter comes invariably the holiday season.

This year, think about the sustainability alternatives possible in activities like decoration. Instead of buying a harvested Christmas tree—that will end up on trashed on the streets—or an oil-based plastic imitation, consider buying a potted plant. Any living plant will make for a great centerpiece alternative, from a seasonal young pine to a growing rosebush. Once the holiday season has run its course, your new holiday decoration will evolve into a year-round home or garden addition, a model of sustainability. Get creative in decorating your holiday plant, strung-up popcorn and cranberries make for great nostalgic, low-footprint tree decoration. Save your holiday greeting cards and punctuate them throughout your plant’s branches to give it that little extra pop. Tie together kitchen spices like cinnamon and cloves to scent the room with homemade potpourri.

Eco-Friendly Christmas

Being sustainable does not have to be a chore.

This season be creative in your sustainability techniques, and rejoice in the extra savings made by keeping your ecological snow-print small.

Have a Happy Xmas

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