7 Ways to Stay Warm Indoors in the Winter and Be Green

U.S. Winter Heating Degree Days - U.S. EIAStay warm indoors during the winter, be green, and save money. Being mindful of what you wear and do inside can help keep you warm while reducing heating costs.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects temperatures to be colder this winter than last year with home heating costs as high as $2,494.

It’s Winter

What constitutes winter varies widely in the U.S., but most people experience a drop in the inside temperature of their home (some a huge drop) and utilize supplemental heating to keep the inside warm. Warm being a relative term.

Winter heating requires resources like oil, natural gas, and electricity which generate greenhouse gases and pollution. Using less is good for our planet and your wallet.

A good starting point is to accept that it is cold and you probably need to dress differently in the winter, yes even when you are inside. Instead of heating your home and office to be warm enough in the winter to walk around wearing a short-sleeved cotton t-shirt, you can turn the thermostat down and put on a sweater.

Hats On

Although there is not a consensus on how much body heat is lost through your head, covering it up, even inside helps you stay warm. Most everyone probably has a camping beanie hidden in the back of a drawer. Sometimes I just put on a baseball cap and that helps too.

Turtles, Gaiters, and Scarves

If my neck is warm I feel warmer in general. Turtleneck shirts and sweaters keep your neck warm but to me, they feel claustrophobic. One of my solutions is to wear a neck gaiter which is a fabric tube you pull over your head. An alternate solution that doesn’t mess up your hair is to wrap a scarf around your neck.

Layers are Good

In the old days, people wore long underwear to stay warm during winter months. Now we have base layers. Although the one-piece union suit style is still available, two pieces are more flexible. Base layers are made of cotton, wool, silk, or polyester and come in a wide variety of styles including those that work under business attire.

Layering clothes is an effective and flexible technique for staying warm outdoors and in. Put on or take off a sweater, flannel shirt, fleece jacket, or shawl as needed.

Warm Hands

Even when the house is relatively warm, my hands will often feel cold. I have thought about wearing mittens or gloves but they are not functional for indoor activities.

Author's Indoor Warm Clothing Collection - hat, neck gaiter, scarf, base layer, fingerless mittens, fleece throwMaybe it is the season or that I am a Charles Dickens fan, but recently I thought of fingerless gloves. Bob Cratchit, a character in a Christmas Carol,  wore fingerless gloves while sitting on his stool and toiling away as a clerk in the freezing office of Mr. Scrooge. As luck would have it, I found a pair of fingerless mittens (fingerless gloves have individual finger holes) in a local shop made by a local artisan.

Once the palms of my hands warm up so do my fingers and I can still type and do other things around the house. I just wish I had thought of this back in the days when I used to work in freezing office buildings.

Toasty Toes

When my feet are warm, I am more apt to feel warm all over. Although my kids seem to be able to go barefoot in the house year round, I utilize footwear (heavy socks, slippers, or shoes).

Throw It On

When you are sedentary your circulation slows down and you may feel cold. Instead of turning up the heat, keep a fleece or wool throw or blanket handy at home and/or the office. Sometimes I put a throw over my lap while sitting at my desk or toss one on my bed at night as an extra layer. Beats turning the heat up.

Get Moving

Periodically getting up and walking around ramps up circulation which warms your whole body. 5 or 10 minutes make a big difference. At work, walk around while listening to a conference call on a cell phone or walk down the hall to talk to a colleague instead of sending an email or text message. At home, walk around during TV commercials, back and forth tidying up, or read the news on an e-reader, smartphone, or tablet.

Challenge yourself to see how creative you can be to stay warm and turn your thermostat down or even off.

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Central Coast Bioneers — Breakthrough Solutions for People and Planet

Central Coast Bioneers LogoI read about the Central Coast Bioneers conference in the Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter newspaper. It sounded interesting so I checked out the Central Coast Bioneers website and then bought tickets for us to attend the October 2012 conference. It was a fun, educational, and inspiring weekend, and we look forward to attending the 4th annual Central Coast Bioneers next year.

Central Coast Bioneers Conference

The main Bioneers conference was held in northern California. Those of us attending the Central Coast Bioneers conference, otherwise known as Beaming Bioneers, were able to see and listen to the plenary speakers and performers via a satellite feed. Local activities in the afternoons included workshops, field trips, a seed exchange, green marketplace, local food, silent auction, green car show, films, and entertainment by local musicians.

Green Marketplace

The green marketplace consisted of product and service vendors, as well as booths for nonprofit organizations. A local bookstore, Volumes of Pleasure Bookshoppe, set up an impromptu bookstore on the premises and offered a selection of books written by plenary speakers and related topics. I purchased several books, including a pop-up version of one of my favorites, The Lorax, by Dr. Suess.

Silent Auction

Generous sponsors donated a wide variety of goods and services for the silent auction. We scored a native plant consultation and kayak tour.

Extreme Green Car Show

Across the street we had an opportunity to check out green cars that already meet or exceed the recently set Federal fuel efficiency rules for auto makers of 54.5 MPG or equivalent by 2025. Unfortunately, we did not get to test drive the Tesla sports car.

Organic Farm Field Trip

We opted for the organic farm field trip one afternoon and visited two organic farms, one raising animals, oranges, and avocados; and the other organic produce.

Old Creek Ranch Hass Avocado OrchardAt Old Creek Ranch, we were greeted by Bob Blanchard, two dogs, and a goat named Stuey. Bob and Terri Blanchard are the second generation to run this ranch which raises 100% grass-fed beef, goat, and lamb meat; pasture raised pork, eggs, and organic oranges and avocados. Bob imparted a wealth of information in a humble and often humorous manner. We learned about how the ranch has migrated over the years to their current philosophy of, “organically grown in harmony with nature”.

It is my understanding from listening to Bob that Terri Blanchard is the brains behind the ranch’s marketing program. She was busy getting ready for a weekend trip to sell the ranch’s products up north, but graciously stopped what she was doing to allow us to purchase delicious fresh squeezed orange juice and avocados right off the tree.

Los Osos Valley Organic Farm StrawberriesWhen we arrived at Los Osos Valley Organic Farm, Jim Terrick welcomed us with a big smile and enthusiastically showed us around his organic produce farm and shared his vision. He was a fount of information about everything from soil to seeds. Jim talked about some of the challenges associated with organic farming. I didn’t realize critters can be more of a problem than insects.

He showed us the insulated bags that were being prepared for their weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Members receive a weekly selection of fresh seasonal organic produce picked fresh from the farm. That sounded fun and delicious. Later in the week we signed up for the winter season.

Green Home Tour

The next day we had the opportunity to visit four green homes from a tiny studio apartment to a multi-family property.

The first home was a renovated apartment chock full of energy saving devices and “green” building materials.

The next property contained several buildings that were different yet created a unified whole. The owner claimed he was not “green” he just like reusing old stuff. There was a story behind most of the materials and a surprise around every corner.

The third home was a craftsman style bungalow that had been expanded and remodeled by a local architect who designs green educational facilities. The photovoltaic system on the roof produces the home’s electricity and recharges the family’s electric car.

The last home was a newer home that had been designed and built incorporating “green” features such as high levels of insulation, overhangs that help maintain comfortable temperatures, and bamboo flooring.

Central Coast Bioneers ConferenceWe are thankful to Stacey Hunt, Michael Jencks, and Celia Zaentz for creating the first Central Coast Bioneers conference in 2010 and continuing to put on this wonderful event year after year.

Hopefully more Beaming Bioneers groups will form around the country so more people can experience this fantastic organization.

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