Stay Warm Sustainably

By Jodi Helmer

Baby, it’s cold outside. But before you crank the dial on the thermostat, consider this: Home heating accounts for 8,800 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per household annually, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. With a few quick fixes, you can combat climate change—no shivering required.

Check for leaks. Place a lit candle near windows and door seals—a flickering flame means heat is escaping. Seal those leaks with a nontoxic caulk.

Turn on the fan. Ceiling fans can actually reduce your heating bills by as much as 10 percent. Just remember to flip the switch to rotate the direction of the blades: The reverse, clockwise setting circulates the warm air hovering near the ceiling, as opposed to the summertime counter-clockwise setting that pulls cold air up from the floor.

Close the fireplace damper. When left open, the damper, or flue, lets heat escape up the chimney. Just be sure to reopen it before lighting a fire.

Try “green” firewood. Create a spark with logs made from recycled coffee grounds. Java-Log Firelogs (pinemountainbrands.com) divert 12 million pounds of coffee grounds per year from the landfill and produce eight times less of the common pollutant creosote than firewood.

Get a home energy audit. Ask your utility company for a list of local firms that will examine your abode room by room to find ways to reduce energy use.