January 22, 2016

Stay Warm - Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Here Linda is modelling the warmest, snuggliest low carbon winter lounge wear. 

I know someone who likes to wear shorts all day while at home. Even in the winter. It is a carbon-intensive process to keep that house summer-like inside at a time when outside temperatures can get to minus 30 degrees C (-22 F) or colder. It is also very expensive.

While room temperature can be anywhere between 21 and 29 C (70 and 84 F), I would find even 21 to be on the too warm side.

That could be because I wear a toque all winter. Two layers on top and warm pants below, with wool socks and slippers comples my winter uniform. While Linda can also brave a sub-room temperature environment, she prefers a slightly warmer temperature than I do.

We have come up with a variety of methods to keep Linda warm inside when the temperature drops to 15 C (59 F), the coldest we have had it inside during the day this winter. That was on the cool side, even for me. We usually keep our home between 18 and 20 degrees C (64 and 69 degrees F) during waking hours.

The only time she had to resort to the full down sleeping bag was the day we let the temperature drop to 15. Linda was a wiggly warm winter worm. While she was right toasty, our down bags are usually on hand in case of emergency, like an extended power outage.

Mostly we use sweaters, layers, fleece, blankets, wool socks, hats, slippers, movement and hot beverages to maintain our comfort level during these cold days. What we don't do is automatically reach for the thermostat or fire up the wood stove. Or wear shorts.

We want to stay warm and lower our carbon footprint at the same time. Saving money isn't as important as saving the world, but it is a nice bonus. Snuggle down my winter-dwelling, low-carbon comrades, and save those shorts for summer. It's coming.






13 comments:

  1. Hi we also try to keep our heating low in the winter months. Not as cold here as Canada, luckily. We are moving over to a plant based bedding and clothing, getting some cotton duvets. Layering up is certainly the key to this. Hot drinks are useful but I can't stop drinking frozen smoothies, lol. Alex

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    Replies
    1. Mmmmm, smoothies. Green smoothies are a daily staple in my house lately.

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  2. I am very excited to be moving into a passively heated and cooling dwelling this week. I live in Australia and am moving to one of the most magnificent parts of the country. Our new home is solar with a composting toilet and the floors are concrete with the tin on the roof sloping in such a way that when the light hits the roof this generates to the concrete floor. I have lived in Canada for over 20 years so I do know winter and of course our winters are slightly less chilly however it does get cold. I am excited to see how little our bills will be and how warm we will be this winter.

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    1. If I ever build my own dwelling it will be a passive solar home. We would love to hear how things go with your new home. How exciting. Happy housewarming.

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  3. Oh man, I see SO MUCH waste on a daily basis working in a school cafeteria that it's hard for me to think that keeping my thermostat below 70 degrees is going to help save the planet. I've become sensitive to cold in my older age and when I feel a chill, I'm less likely to be motivated to do anything. I live pretty frugally, I drive a 10 year old paid off car, I recycle and donate, I try not to buy unnecessary things, I've downsized and downsized some more, but I'm not going to cheat myself out of being warm when I feel cold in my own home. I'm currently wearing warm pjs with a blanket wrapped around me and my thermostat is set at 72. I know. I'm sorry, but I'm a wimp.

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    1. If only we built our homes better we wouldn't need to waste so much energy heating them. When I got up this morning, for example, the sun was shining bright in a blue sky. If I lived in a passive solar house it would have been nice and warm and toasty without any additional heating.

      We live in a new home with 2 X 6 construction and good insulation, but it is still very inefficient compared to homes constructed with energy efficiency in mind. A passive solar home built out of straw bales would be my choice if I were to build my own home.

      In the meantime, since Linda is the one that runs cooler than I, she is the one that sets the thermostat. If she is uncomfortably cold, the heat goes on. Home is where we should be able to be as comfortable as possible.

      I agree that no amount of freezing in the dark is going to save us. But heating is really expensive, and keeping the thermostat lower does save money.

      I would like to live in a more tropical environment for a while, and not have to worry about it.

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  4. I will let you know how things are in our new home for sure. I wanted to tell you that my partner went into the local library today for his library card. On Tuesdays they have a free buffet lunch for members. Not too shabby :)

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    1. Oh joy, oh bliss! The public library is where it is at. New home, new library card - you guys are on your way.

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    2. I have never heard of a library offering a free lunch :)

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  5. Just reading this and the comments are great! We live in North Texas, so have longer, hot summers and short, cold winters. Thermostat settings -- winter: 67-69 F; summer: 77-78 (fans help!). It is bliss in the spring and fall, when open windows mean no electric heating or cooling:)
    I instinctively stay away from cooking in the oven when it's warm outside, and when we use it in the colder months, we open the oven door afterward to circulate some of that precious heat. And I am always amazed at the power of wool clothing and layers!
    The only reason we really keep it as warm and cool as we do is for our furry companions: two mini-dachshunds who abhor too much cold and too much heat. I will say, they are great to snuggle with in the winter;)
    And I, too, dream of living in a passive solar home. We are getting a few of them, which is promising http://www.motherearthliving.com/energy-efficiency/mission-accomplished-a-superefficient-texas-home.aspx

    Thanks for your great inspiration, Gregg, as always!
    -Erin in Texas

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    1. Erin,

      Spring and fall are beautiful here in Nova Scotia, but we never get too hot or too cold any time of the year (compared to other parts of North America).

      Having said that, I too hesitate to do much cooking in the hottest parts of the summer. It would be nice to have an outdoor kitchen for that purpose, perhaps with a DIY cob oven. Thanks for leaving your comment and the interesting link.

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  6. I always found "room temperature" a weird concept. I'm most comfortable at around 12-14 degrees celcius. By the time we're at any kind of official "room temperature" I'm far too hot and I'm melting. Luckily we don't live somewhere warm, although in winter our house hovers around the outdoor temperature of 2-10C, which is when we're wearing hats and blankets inside. The problem is if I'm too cold I just stop doing things and sit around for month doing nothing because I don't want to get out from the blankets. We really need some insulation so thre's a point to using the heaters.

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    1. If we kept our house between 2 and 10 C Linda and I wouldn't get out of bed until spring. Insulation is a great idea that makes a home more comfortable and efficient.

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