With the temperature dropping, and nights especially getting increasingly chillier, it is clear we are heading into heater season. However, just like in summer, our desire to have a comfortable interior climate in winter does not come without an environmental impact. And, depending on the choice you make, it can be quite significant.
Home heating options come in all different shapes and sizes and they all have their various pros and cons – ranging from cheap and cheerful to buy, but inefficient and expensive to run fan heaters, right through to energy and cost efficient to run but pricey to install hydronic heating systems, and a whole heap of other options in between.
There is a lot of information out in the world that breaks down the relative environmental and financial merits of different heating options, but I wanted to explore ways to keep warm at home that don’t involve a heater.
The idea of warming people instead of warming spaces is not at all revolutionary – after all, it seems to be a big reason for the longevity of the four-poster bed - but it does seem to not be a widely adopted concept in Australia. With the exception of electric blankets, Ugg boots and throw rugs, I don’t know many households that have embraced personal warming options in preference to space heating. And that doesn’t really make sense – after all, our bodies generate heat all day every day, but we don’t really act to capitalise on that.
Personal warming options – aside from the electric blankets, Ugg boots, and throw rugs mentioned above – include thermal underclothes (yes, long johns), wearing gloves, beanies and socks, layering up in insulating materials like wool, fleece, down, or other materials with a high-clo value (a rating which relates to thermal resistance), like the Heattech range by Uniqlo, or even wearing heated garments(!). You can also go down a furniture route with a hooded chair, which both insulates and deflects draughts, but to me these look decidedly haunted!
There are really good reasons to consider these ideas to reduce your use of home heating. For a start, insulating a body is more effective and efficient than insulting a house, plus is far more sustainable. Environmentally, personal warming is a no brainer - even products like thermals made from synthetic materials have a lower environmental impact than the energy cost of running a space heater. Financially, the benefits are clear too; while you will probably still own a heater, by adopting personal warming options, you won’t need to run it as hard or for as long, which can have big financial benefit. Another benefit is that personal warming meets the needs of each individual – you aren’t setting a temperature that everyone must live in. Everyone wins! You just might need to give visitors a heads up!
If you combine these things with some other passive actions like putting down rugs, closing curtains at night, blocking draughts, adding insulation, even considering your furniture placement to deflect draughts, then the benefits will compound, and you will find the need to use a heater is even less still. Then you can enjoy the addition warm glow that comes from being a friend to the environment!
One last note, when you do choose a heater, electricity is pretty much always the winner in the heater stakes when it is offset with green power or is sourced by your own solar. Just something to keep in mind.
See you next time! - Elise
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.