Would protecting the environment be at odds with the winter period? At first glance, this question seems uninteresting.
However, by observing various parameters such as the air quality in the buildings, and the type of heating used, to name but a few, we are tempted to revise our certainties.
Winter can be a terrible time for the environment if we do not take care to adopt reflexes to remain moderate in all circumstances.
Table of Contents
Why winter can be the worst time for our environment?
1. More Polluted Indoor Air
It is known, during the winter, one locks oneself. Many people prefer warmth to ventilation.
It is a bad idea for several reasons: the indoor air is only renewed very little when the doors are opened. Consequence: it is loaded with carbon dioxide.
The rate is even higher if the room does not have a dedicated ventilation system. In the absence of ventilation, we obtain indoor atmospheres much more polluted than the air in the street! It sounds incredible, yet it does happen sometimes.
The most noticeable signs of this heavy indoor air pollution are mild or intense numbness. There are at least two ways to purify the air circulating in homes and offices.
On the one hand, by putting houseplants during the day. They will increase the amount of oxygen through photosynthesis. On the other hand, by regularly opening the windows, at least three times a day for ten minutes.
2. Heating Fuels
Before and during winter, the rounds of tank trucks delivering heating fuel are visible. Properly used, this fuel is used to operate the heaters.
But the main problem with gas oil is not its combustion to produce heat; it is instead its overall production process. Before reaching this heating gas oil, it is necessary to drill, extract hydrocarbons, separate the various products contained in crude oil.
This lengthy process consumes a lot of energy, contributes to environmental degradation, and too quickly depletes mineral resources that have taken millennia to form.
To initiate a positive change in heating oneself, governments subsidize heating devices’ installation using renewable energies.
3. Excessive Heating
It is also one of the effects of winter, and sometimes the temptation is strong to turn up the heating to improve comfort. It is, in fact, a bad idea because increasing the temperature as if the living room were an oven for baking your cake also means consuming more resources to keep the thermostat high.
The ecological attitude consists in maintaining an average temperature that is neither too high nor too low.
It is also true in vehicles, and we should bear in mind that increasing the heating affects the vehicle’s fuel consumption and sometimes causes health consequences due to the thermal shock when passengers leave the car. Protecting the environment must be manifested by continuous moderation.
Protection of Environment During Winter
Winter is arriving soon; the coldest season of the year brings with it some discussions. Some like it and say that in winter everything is cozier, and some prefer warmer days.
Most people find it harder to be sustainable and contribute to a healthy environment at this time of year. We take longer showers, use more electricity, it isn’t easy to do things outdoors, and consumption increases significantly.
Because of this, we bring some tips for actions that you can take this season to continue with our goal of preserving our environment:
1. Environmentally friendly heating in winter
It is more or less inescapable to heat our homes or offices in winter. But we are free to choose the heating.
Old heating approaches or those that have not been upgraded waste energy and money. Using a modern heating system, you can reduce your heating costs by up to 20% and protect the environment at the same time.
Reducing the room temperature by only 1 degree can save 5-6% of the energy needed for heating, so make sure you set the thermostat correctly.
In the room where you spend most of your time, we recommend a temperature of 20-22 degrees Celsius. We recommend 17-18 degrees in the bedroom and 22-24 degrees in the bathroom.
If you are not at home during the day, the heating system doesn’t need to operate at its maximum programmed capacity.
Keep doors and windows tightly closed. Avoid continuous ventilation through folded windows because by doing so, the facade of the building cools down, and you end up in a situation where you are actually heating the outside.
The heat will be evacuated through the half-open window, causing the walls to cool, thus heating the atmosphere adjacent to the building.
Introduce large waves of fresh air in a shorter time. To do this, open the windows in opposite areas of the house for five minutes to effectively refresh the air inside and remove unwanted moisture.
Keep the heated rooms doors closed so as not to lose the warm air inside. Pull the curtains, roller shutters, or blinds. This way, the rooms will stay at the desired temperature for a longer time.
Please take advantage of accessible energy sources, such as natural sunlight, and raise the shutters when sunny.
Water heating uses over 12% of energy needs. Reduce the amount of hot water used by taking a shower instead of a bath.
Not only will you save water substantially (approximately 50 l), but also thermal energy.
We recommend using bathroom and kitchen faucets with premix and temperature control and a shower head with a pressure spray. Advantageous is the domestic hot water recirculation systems.
Avoid electric fans with heaters because heating based on electricity is inefficient and very expensive.
Both electric and infrared heaters consume a significant amount of energy. Another aspect worth considering is that, during the winter, the electricity from domestic production is limited and must be additionally imported from abroad.
If the radiators do not heat well, they must be ventilated. Check your old heating system regularly to ensure it works efficiently in terms of cost and energy. It will help you avoid malfunctions and pollutant emissions, extend the service life and increase the efficiency of your heating system.
Modern heating systems are equipped with intelligent control systems that allow you to adjust the temperature according to your daily habits and the weather forecast in real-time via the Internet.
For all those guided by the principles of ecology and saving, the intelligent control system is an essential acquisition.
If you are cold in the winter, no matter how hot it is inside, try the traditional methods – a bottle of warm water, a warm blanket, or relax your feet in a bowl of warm water and mineral bath salts.
2. Make Small Lifestyle Changes
You don’t have to change your lifestyle to impact the environment radically.
Use reusable fabric shopping bags to bring your groceries home from the store, switch from incandescent bulbs to LEDs, wash when the machine is full and in cold water, and hang clothes to dry instead of dryers.
Every small change in habit or behavior will save money and energy while protecting the environment.
Install programmable thermostats in your home (in summer, set them to 25 ° C; in winter, to 20 ° C), walk more often, use public transportation or opt for carpooling with your friends and work colleagues.
Avoid harmful chemical cleaning products and use environmentally friendly products: white vinegar, water, and baking soda will clean your home quickly and well!
There is an apparent correlation between income and carbon footprint in the social sphere. Therefore, it is vital to consider equity principles in lifestyle changes.
The lower-income groups are the ones that contribute the least to global emissions. In terms of equity, these are the bands that, in theory, require less drastic changes in their lifestyles.
However, individuals who wish to adopt more sustainable lifestyles should be encouraged, at all levels of society, as more sustainable lifestyles also contribute to higher levels of well-being, with co-benefits for health and quality of life.
3. Use Solar Charger
People worldwide love their cell phones and tablets, but frequently recharging the batteries can waste a lot of energy.
Protect the environment by using a solar charger. Often less expensive than a traditional charger, a solar charger is generally lightweight and easy to use.
And the advantage is that you can charge your phone or tablet outside and away from home.
Solar energy-based chargers are resources to educate people about using clean and renewable energy, especially concerning solar energy.
Using solar energy, whether to charge your cell phone or in other matters, helps to reduce electricity costs. The cost of doing this habit transformation may initially seem expensive, but the long-term benefits are rewarding.
The use of electrical energy to charge a cell phone approximately contributes 200-300 grams of CO2 daily.
With the use of the solar charger, we can avoid the emission of 75Kg of CO2 per year into the atmosphere.
4. Sustainable Food
Keeping an organic diet has several advantages for improving our health and contributing to preserving the environment.
As they are free of pesticides (chemicals that are proven to be harmful to our bodies), organic foods help to preserve our body’s health.
It prevents the appearance of possible allergic reactions, neurological problems, hormonal disturbances, and respiratory problems resulting from the ingestion of chemical substances in vegetables and fruits grown with pesticides. Being sustainable is also thinking that food can help protect the planet’s water resources.
Those who consume organic food collaborate to protect the quality of the water, as the pesticides used during planting invade the soil, reaching the water tables, polluting the planet’s lakes and rivers.
Choosing to buy food at the fair and with less packaging (mainly plastic and Styrofoam) contributes to a more sustainable diet.
Additionally, moderating the meat consumption that we eat is another step to protect our environment.
Meat (beef, sheep, pork, and chicken) has the greatest environmental impact.
In addition, it is the food group with the highest water footprint: 1,770 liters of water are needed to produce 300g of chicken or 1,830 liters in the case of 300g of lamb fillet.
Likewise, it is best only to consume fish and shellfish caught sustainably and avoid endangered species. It is necessary to preserve the marine populations we currently have to the maximum.
Increase the intake of cereals and derivatives (bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice). This group of foods has a significantly lower environmental impact than meat and fish. 500g of bread has a water footprint of 650 liters, or 500g of wheat represents 500 liters of water.
5. Save on water consumption
Talking about natural resources, every time we use water unconsciously, we waste a precious resource on our planet.
Although Earth is primarily a water mass, only a tiny portion of this resource is potable since the vast majority is found in seas and oceans.
Therefore, thinking about the conscientious consumption of water is essential, especially when we’re taking a shower, brushing our teeth, or washing the dishes.
You brush your teeth, shave or soap your hands and if you wash dishes by hand, use basins and don’t do it with the tap running.
If we brush our teeth with the tap open, we spend around 6 liters, while opening it only when we need it will consume less than half a liter.
Whenever you turn on a tap or use the water for anything, bathe in a pool, in a clean river or lake, try to think that you are one of the lucky ones. As you have access to water, you must make sustainable use of it and only use what is necessary.
If you have a garden or outdoor plants to water, do it at night. When watering during the day, you can lose up to 30% due to evaporation.
Instead of using a dishwasher to wash and clean utensils that consume a lot of water regardless of their load, you can use a tub of water. We can reuse this water for other activities such as scrubbing the floor.
Turn off the shower while soaping up. Also, do not shower unnecessarily long; it is not sustainable even if it is pleasant to let warm water sprinkle on you for half an hour.
6. Build an Eco-Friendly House
Environmentally friendly buildings include the eco-house, which causes the least possible damage to nature.
It is cheaper to produce as it is made of fired clay brick and concrete, and its lightweight steel structure weighs thirty times less than the weight of the latter two materials, so the specific production cost of the frame structure is much lower.
Easier to transport, no need for a concrete pump, crane, formwork, cladding, chemical surface treatment, and recyclable.
Unlike wood, which has the lowest energy consumption, galvanized steel profiles are non-combustible, and, as they are manufactured to size, there is no waste or construction debris.
The heating of the used eco-house costs a third as much as that of a traditional building. It works with environmentally friendly energy sources, solar panels, solar collectors, and wind energy.
Such a building maintains the proper temperature by cooling or heating only the air needed for the upgrade without recirculating the rest of the air.
An efficient heat-exchange ventilation device provides air movement. The thermal insulation of windows, roof structures, and walls is excellent, so there is no need for conventional heating systems.
The air is heated by the winter and summer sunshine, requiring little energy and being carbon neutral. However, the right building site is vital, as, in some places, it is not possible to build a qualified passive house at all due to poor sun exposure.
The other option is the Active house, which, as a kind of “mini-power plant,” produces more energy than it uses. Environmentally friendly energy production equipment, such as solar panels, keeps it running and transfers excess energy to consumers in the area.
The modern digitalized world is hard to imagine without laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones. You probably also have some of these devices, or maybe all of them at once.
Every day we are faced with the operation of a computer and other modern technical devices:
· A home personal computer
· A computer in the workplace
· Other forms of manifestation of universal computerization
Not all of us know that a computer or smartphone is a source of electromagnetic radiation or can predispose to the development of many diseases and environmental pollution.
Not everyone knows preventive measures against these diseases and ways to protect against their impact on the environment and humans.
For example, using a white (light) background already saves power (for an LCD monitor), and don’t forget about the standby mode and the hibernation options.
Also, we save energy even if we don’t turn the machine on and off frequently if we turn off the unused hard drive and the monitor – the latter two are just a matter of setup.
8. Make compost at home
Protecting the environment is not just about consuming water. The consumer culture is obsessed with immediately throwing away any product that no longer meets the standards of appearance and operation.
Food is most often thrown away: Fruits and vegetables end up in the trash at the slightest stain of imperfection.
However, those foods are edible, even if they don’t look like the pictures. Or, possibly, we can pickle them. Thus, even if they have minor imperfections, the food retains its taste for a long time.
Food no longer edible is often thrown directly in the trash, although natural foods can be well-composted.
The food is turned into fertilizer through this process, which hard-working gardeners can then use to fertilize the soil. The fertilizer resulting from composting is 100% natural, saving us the need to buy fertilizer from the store.
In addition, if we look at food once more before throwing it away and possibly consuming it, we don’t have to spend the money on new ones.
And, even if food gets composted, we can console ourselves with the idea that we don’t have to buy fertilizer anymore.
It seems that many people have already taken over this way of thinking. In 2017, a third of the total amount of waste went through the composting process.
9. Environmental Friendly Behavior
Energy consumption also has a vital role to play in protecting the environment. In the home of a family with three or four members, we come across many electronic devices, often more of the same kind.
Many of these devices, essential in everyday life, have low-energy alternatives, such as washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, or energy-saving light bulbs.
But even if we use energy-saving light bulbs, we still keep the light on too long. In the evening, people leave the light on when they leave the room or leave the TV or radio on.
If these devices go on continuously while we leave the room for more than 15 minutes, it is necessary to turn them off; otherwise, we consume electricity in vain.
The whole thing matters and the problem is that these behaviors are so deeply rooted that we don’t even realize them anymore, which makes any attempt at the change all the more difficult.
But with goodwill and patience, it is possible. When we draw the line at the end of the year, we notice that these gestures have an enormous impact taken together.
For example, instead of each family member watching a TV show, the family can gather in the living room to watch TV together. It saves current and, as a bonus, the whole family feels good together.
As for those who live alone, they too can make a significant change. The first step is not to use multiple devices at the same time. For example, sitting on the phone or laptop is not advisable, while the TV programs are unacquainted.
If we need background noise, modern devices give us a lot of possibilities to listen to music, or we can turn on the radio—the same result, with lower energy consumption.
10. Use Renewable Energy Sources
We can obtain the best solutions by using energy from renewable sources. Modern technology allows us to equip new buildings with solar panels on the roof.
These new technologies can make a difference both at home and in the block. When placed on the roof, photovoltaic panels capture sunlight, convert it into electricity and store it in built-in batteries. These panels allow users to save money by using this energy to power various devices.
There are also smaller wind turbines for brave artisans, which the user or professionals can assemble. There is a wide range of such devices on the Internet.
Whatever we choose, wind turbines can supplement the energy input needed by a household, especially in windy regions. So we better put solar panels on the roof and wind turbines in the yard.
Together with changing habits, these initiatives can lead to drastically reduced and environmentally friendly energy consumption.
We cannot make the winter 100 percent environmentally friendly. However, if you observe the core as mentioned above statements, you are already making an enormous contribution to maintaining the health of our ecosystem.
Even if you don’t believe in karma, the environment will thank you. With this in mind: Get through the winter safely and securely!
(Last Updated on April 10, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)