It took a long time to arrive, but winter is truly here in Western Massachusetts. For winter sports enthusiasts, these are the golden days, perfect for skiing or snowshoeing. For some people, however, winter is just a thing to be endured until warmer temperatures return. If you’re one of those people, we’ve got some tips to help you carry on through the cold while you dream of spring, and as a bonus, you’ll save some energy and money too!
-This may sound crazy, but unless you drive a classic car or something with a diesel engine, there’s no need to idle your vehicle for several minutes to warm it up. Modern cars use engine oil rated for colder weather, and have computers that help the engine perform more efficiently in the cold. The Department of Energy says most vehicle manufacturers advise that you should start driving off slowly after 30 seconds- driving helps your engine heat up faster than idling, and you’ll get better fuel efficiency as your engine approaches its ideal operating temperature. For the benefit of the moving parts in your engine, one to two minutes may be wise, but anything beyond that is a waste of gas and cause of pollution.
-Forget struggling to scrape ice off your windshield. Make an ice-melting mixture of two parts rubbing alcohol to one part water and put it in a spray bottle. Alcohol has a much lower freezing point than the ice on your windshield, so it melts the ice like magic, and you can easily remove it from your windshield. Thanks, science!
-Properly inflate your tires. You’ll get better gas mileage and should have better traction on snowy roads.
-Use a programmable thermostat to set a heating schedule so you’re not heating while you’re at work or asleep. Why burn fuel for heat with nobody around to enjoy it? Watch your heating bill shrink!
-Leave your curtains and shades open during the day to take advantage of natural light and heat- close them at night to trap heat in your home. You can also build winserts to reduce heat loss during the day while still letting sunlight in.
-Have your heating system serviced yearly to maintain efficiency and prevent breakdowns.
-Use caulk to seal any gaps around windows or doors. A little bit of silicone could save you a lot of money and lost heat.
-Ceiling fans normally run counterclockwise, pushing air down, which cools you as the air carries away your body heat. Most fans have a switch to reverse the blades’ direction, which causes it to pull colder air up toward the ceiling. Hot air rises, but the influx of cold air from the fan pushes it down to your level.
-Put on a sweater or burrow under some blankets. Think in layers.
-Get cozy with a warm cup of tea or coffee. Combine with the sweater or blankets and you have a great setup to spend your day reading (or binge-watching your favorite shows).
-Do some aerobic exercise. Burn calories for heat!
Mass Save® is an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts’ gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers, including, The Berkshire Gas Company, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Cape Light Compact, Eversource, National Grid, Liberty Utilities and Unitil. Having a no-cost Home Energy Assessment through Mass Save is your first step toward financial incentives for air sealing and insulation improvements, rebates, and free energy-efficient lightbulbs. Call 1-866-527-7283 now to set up your Home Energy Assessment!
For more tips to stay warm (or cool) and save money all year long, keep an eye on our GoGreen News blog!