As the leaves turn and the mornings bring cold fog and frost to our doorsteps, we start to think about cozying up by a warm fire, eating comfort foods (plentiful in Cabot Cheddar of course, like this Cheddar Cheese Soup) and drinking hot cider or pumpkin spiced lattes. But as the temps turn even colder, it’s hard to keep the cold out, and the heat in. Cabot’s Sustainability team has some advice.Cozy up with these winterizing tips, do better for your wallet and our planet. #BtheChange Click To Tweet
We’ve put together some simple, easy steps that you can take to winterize your home. To make it even easier, we’ve organized them so that you can choose what to do based on time and cost. Follow this guide and you’ll not only be cozying up longer to that warm fireplace but you’ll save money and help save our environment. And as a Certified B Corp, Cabot loves when we do good for our people, our pocket book and our planet.
Winterizing 101: From your Cabot Green Team
We aren’t lying about it being simple and easy. Winterizing can seem daunting; upgrading attic insulation, replacing old windows, buying a new furnace, and the list goes on. Home improvements for these bigger projects may be important steps but can be costly and time consuming. We wanted to offer some smaller ways to winterize your home that still have big impacts. Organized into three categories, The Free Way, For $25 or Less, and Bring In The Pros, you can start out small and go bigger as you feel comfortable.
Before starting, it’s important to ask yourself a couple of questions that will help to guide your winterizing to do list.
First: “WHY winterize?” Are you doing it because your utility bill is unbearable in the winter months? Is there one room in the house you simply can’t use in the winter? Are windows filling up with condensation that creates must or mold? When you think about these questions, you then know WHY you want to spend a little time winterizing and that motivation helps.
Second: “Show me the cold!” You know your home best, where are the spots that always seem to be the coldest. Where does it seem that heat is just pouring out of the house?
Third: If you ever find yourself frustrated while winterizing – remember – by following a few low-cost steps we’ve listed below, you can save hundreds on your energy bill over a season. And for every dollar that stays in your pocket, you’re cutting down on air pollution and helping to make a better world around you now and into the future.
The Free Way
1. Hello to Clean Gutters: Water that flows freely means fewer icicles and ice dams freezing onto your roof. Make sure you have clean gutters going into the winter season.
2. Goodbye Unvented Space Heaters: We simply don’t recommend using Unvented combustion space heaters. They put water vapor into your home’s air and can often put carbon monoxide into the air, too. If you really need a space heater, the best route is an electric one.
3. A Flush For Your Water Heater: All you have to do is flush the water through the drain valve at the bottom of the heater. This will also eliminate sediment that collects over time that decreases the unit’s efficiency.
4. The Bathroom Towel Trick: For exterior doors that aren’t used every day, roll an old bath towel up and place along the bottom of the door. You’ll keep the heat in and the cold out. You can also purchase Draft Guards for $10-$15 that work nicely as well.
5. Take Control of your Thermostat: You can typically save 1% on your energy bill for each degree you lower your thermostat. Set the automated program on your thermostat so that you aren’t heating your house unnecessarily when you’re not home.
6. Turn your Fans Clockwise: If you have a ceiling fan, you can use it to push hot air around the room, just make sure it is set to turn clockwise so that it’s most efficient at pushing that hot air away from the ceiling.
For $25 or Less
1. Replace Filters: Regularly changing filters in your heating and central air systems is a must, not only does it mean that the air you are breathing is cleaner, but it saves on your wallet too!
2. Window Insulation Film: Grab a pack of window film from your local hardware store, you can find kits for around $25. Some kits simply stick onto the windows, others might need the help of a hair dryer. Either way, you’ll be keeping 70% of the heat that escapes from your windows in your house!
3. Weather Strip Tape: Use this for doors and windows. Again, this is a pretty common one that is simple and saves a lot but many people don’t do it. One hour spent equals money back and less air pollution, it’s a win-win. A roll typically costs $5-$10 dollars.
4. Tackle the Draft: Check around outlets, dryer vents and any pipes coming into your home for drafts. Just place your hand near these spots on a cold day, if you feel cold air, you’ll want to use some weather strip tape or for outlets you can even use outlet caps.
5. Insulate your attic hatch or pull-down stairs: You can save big by insulating this one small area. Larger projects from a home energy audit might suggest upgrading insulation of the entire attic, but, if you can at least get the hatch or pull-down stairs completed you’ll see immediate savings. A combination or 2 inch foam board and weather stripping works well.
Bring In The Pros
If you’re someone who has done most of the free or low cost winterizing tricks and you’re motivated to do more, it’s probably time to call in the professionals. Many states have incentive programs sponsored by energy efficiency funds that are designed to help homeowners make improvements that are a little more costly. Professionals will come to your home and do an energy audit. They will identify a list of projects that will most effectively help you save on your home heating and energy costs. The cost of doing the projects identified by an audit can have a big range but typically, the benefit of the work and return on your investment greatly outweigh the cost.
Projects Might Include:
- Upgrading insulation with materials such as spray foam, cellulose and rigid board. These materials can be applied to attics, basements and walls/doors.
- Switching to a new, efficient technology for hot water systems such as a heat pump hot water heater.
- Replacing your old furnace or boiler with new energy efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning unit.
Going a Little Further: Winterizing Resources
You can also do your own energy audit for free. Take some time to do an inventory of your energy use. Use this appliance energy calculator from the national Energy Saver website to see where you spend most of your money on energy costs. Then, see if there are ways you can change behaviors in the home that will help you decrease these costs.
Check out your state’s energy efficiency program and find out about discounts on home energy audits and incentive programs that will help offset the cost of projects like installing a new, efficient hot water heater or pay you rebates for energy savings you’re collecting!
Vermont: Efficiency Vermont
Massachusetts: Mass Save
New York: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority NYSERDA
National: Weatherization Assistance Program at Energy.gov
There are lots of ways to save that benefit you, your family and our world. Cabot’s Green Teams work hard to find ways to decrease energy use and lessen our impact on the environment in our plants where we make your favorite cheese. Now you can do the same at home! And once you’re finished, celebrate with our favorite Fall’s Best Slow Cooker Recipes!
Cabot Creamery Cooperative is the world’s first cheese maker and dairy cooperative to achieve B Corporation Certification, a validation of its attention to environmental and social impacts on stakeholders.
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Ann Hoogenboom is Cabot’s Sustainability Coordinator and gets to share the latest and greatest in sustainability news from our farm families. As a Vermont native and lover of all things green, she’s proud of the socially responsible business role that Cabot plays for our cows, our creamery, our community and our customers.