South Africa: In the thick of winter we’re going to want to keep warm and cosy! We’re not going to want to give up any of those winter comforts, and being conservative about using energy won’t necessarily be at the top of our list of priorities. While the temperature is still pleasant, what you may want to do is consider these “easy-to-do” ways to save energy AND keep warm. Being prepared for the frosty weather may prove to be your most eco-friendly move this winter.
1. Dress for the weather. Try wearing more layers as the temperature starts to dip. You’ll look great, and you’ll be warm too.
2. Make the most of the sun. The winter sun is not as ‘harsh’ as the summer sun, but is still very warming. When possible, take advantage of the mid-morning and early afternoon rays- spending even half an hour outside will not only warm you up, but will also help stave off the winter ‘blues’.
3. Take your shoes off & Keep your hat on. Let you feet breathe and dry in the natural warmth of a sunny winters day. Let your shoes and socks warm up in the sun too. Cosy & good for foot hygiene. And the hat… they say we lose a great deal of heat energy from our exposed head surface, so why not get a few trendy hats and cover that base as well:)
4. Walk it out. A brisk walk, or 10-30 minutes of any exercise for that matter, works wonders to get the blood flowing hot through your veins! Exercise uses your own body’s energy stores to burn as fuel for a heat that warms you to your core, and helps keep you warm for hours afterwards (*just don’t let an icy wind cool you down straight away!)
5. Get cosy under a blanket. The best blanket you can get these days are bamboo blankets. Bamboo blankets keep you warm and help regulate your temperature. They are incredibly breathable and and help to keep you very warm, but not sweaty hot warm like cotton tends to do. Bamboo blankets are also anti-bacterial, luxuriously soft, highly absorbent & healthy… need we say more?
You may have a difficult time sourcing bamboo blankets in South Africa, but polarfleece may offer a suitable solution locally. Polarfleece® is the original synthetic fleece fabric that has forever changed the way the world dresses for cold weather. This fabric is soft, comfortable, warm, quick-drying and durable for long-lasting good looks. Ideal for blankets, casual wear and accessories, Polarfleece® will last wash after wash for many years (the color may go out of style long before the garment wears out). Sources say that fleece can be made from recycled plastic bottles, so it gets the eco-nod for durability and renew-ability. Its always a balance of pros and cons though.
6. Grab a Hot Water Bottle, or the ‘heat in the microwave’ grain bag version. These now come in slipper and scarf versions, and it is far more eco-friendly to warm your body directly than it is to heat an entire room with an oil or element heater.
7. If you do use a room heater… choose to use an infrared heater. Rather than wasting energy by heating the ambient temperature through convection, infrared heaters emit radiant heat in an infrared band that is safe and ideal for absorption by the human body. In addition, the heaters use less than half of the energy of conventional heaters and will reduce your energy cost, as well as your carbon footprint. If you use a heater of any kind, be sure to use a humdifier at the same time: flu-causing germs thrive in cold, dry environments and this simple addition to your heating agenda could save you a fortune in medical bills and lost work hours. (*see concluding notes and references for our most eco-friendly appliance recommendations in both regards)
8. An electric blanket can melt even the iciest night, and they are surprisingly energy efficient! You can make yours even more energy efficient by turning it to its highest setting for a few minutes just before getting into bed, and then turning it off for the rest of the night. An eco-friendly winter is the perfect excuse to move your TV (or even better, start reading books) into your bedroom and get cosy early!
9. Keep the warm air inside. Check for any air leaks around your home. Extra insulation is a simple way to make sure that heat (& money) energy isn’t leaking out of your home and leaving it too cold for comfort. To find the leaks, use the old trick of lighting a candle on a breezy day, and then close all the windows and doors. As you walk around your home check for any movement in the candle and see if there are drafts you did not notice before.
Homes lose most of their heat via the windows. A simple way to contain heat and keep the cold out is to use the drapes or window covering strategically. Open the drapes up to allow the most amount of light & natural solar heat into your home. Close up before it starts getting cold, and keep this heat inside by drawing the curtains and closing the drapes/blinds. You can also purchase specialized insulating drapes, which use layers of dark insulating material, a radiant barrier, and a moisture-resistant layer to prevent condensation.
10. The best for last… Body heat is always a great natural heat source. On those cool nights, invite over some friends to share stories, drink some hot chocolate and enjoy each other’s natural body heat.
Have an eco-cosy winter everyone!
1. EcoHeat: eco-friendly, economical infrered heaters
2. The original Polarfleece
3. Laica Humidifiers provides ultrasonic cold steam for up to 16 hours. Cold steam is both safe and eco-friendly, as there is no heating element needed. Contact NutriAgency for more info about obtaining Laica products in South Africa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Simple eco-friendly habits make a big difference if enough people participate. Heat and Water conservation habits combined with water saving devices such as rainwater systems and greywater systems will immediately reduce your environmental impact and save money. Switching to solar energy such as solar water geysers can also greatly reduce your carbon footprint and your electricity bills.
Water Rhapsody Water Conservation Systems and Yes Solar Mpumalanga offer eco-friendly rainwater collection systems, rainwater tanks, grey water recycling, swimming pool backwash recycling, water-saving toilet flush mechanisms and high quality Solsquare solar water geysers.
Contact us for a FREE QUOTE on a solar water heater, rainwater harvesting system (see rainwater FAQ), gray water recycling system or water tank (we are authorized South African JoJo Water Tanks dealers and supply the full range of JoJo water tanks and JoJo tank stands). Our water tank prices are hard to beat in the Mpumalanga & Limpopo Lowveld.
Water conservation and renewable energy such as solar energy are two issues that affect the global community; make a difference and start conserving water and switch to renewable energy today. Another way of reducing your carbon footprint is to switch to green insurance, now available in South Africa.