Preparing for Winter: Go Green

October 15, 2009

Can I give you a little advice about greenifying, keeping heating costs low, staying warm and being fashionable this winter?   Put on a sweater. 

The government has been advising us for more than 20 years to put our thermostats at 68 degrees daytime (and another 10 degrees cooler at night) in the winter to try to conserve energy while staving off winter chills.  If you can do that, you’ll realize a savings of as much as 10% annually on your electricity bills.

Sweaters can be an answer.  Along with socks, an occasional thermal shirt, pajamas and maybe even a bath robe.  Put some rugs on that tiled bathroom floor.  The tiles will benefit, too.

Sweaters are going to big fashion news this fall.  They are in all the best stores and available in all kinds of price ranges.  This isn’t our normal stuff here at Green Business Alliance, but in the interest of helping you greenify, let’s discuss sweater materials.

Cotton: the fabric of our lives.  It’s comfortable, soft, and so very washable.  Not the best choice for harsh winters, but definitely what you’d choose next to your skin.

Linen: prized for its lightness and beauty, but not for warmth.  Linen is favored in the summer.

Wool: the crimped hair of domesticated sheep.  Because of the crimp, wool fabrics have a greater bulk than other textiles, and retain air, which causes the product to retain heat. Wool makes some people itch, yet makes others comfortable because of its elastic and water absorbent properties. Because some wool must be dry cleaned, it can be less environmentally friendly.   But carefully maintained, it wears for years.  And many wool sweaters don’t require dry cleaning, if you check the label.  Wool, like all animal hairs, is naturally flame-retardant.

Mohair: fabric made from the hairs of angora goats.  The younger the goat, the softer and finer the hair, which means that clothing is usually made from the younger goats’ coats.  Mohair is warm and has great insulating properties. It is durable, moisture-wicking, stretch and flame resistant, and crease resistant.  It doesn’t “itch” as much as regular wool because the scales on the hairs are not fully developed.  Also needs dry cleaning.
Cashmere: considered the King of Natural Fibers, it is a fiber obtained from the cashmere goat.  Cashmere wool is fine in texture, and it is also strong, light, and soft; when it is made into garments, they are extremely warm to wear.  Also needs dry cleaning.

Other choices for sweater materials including polyester, spandex, viscose and nylon are man-made materials.  While a little nylon may give your sweater some durability, and some spandex improves the fit and styling, adding man-made fibers can make a sweater less breathable and therefore less comfortable. Also, a polyester sweater will “pill” underneath your arms faster than Mom saying “school’s closed for a snow day” makes a sick kid feel better.

So do yourself a favor and pick up a few sweaters. Better yet: GET OUT YOUR OLD ONES.   Your wardrobe will thank you and so will your electric company.   Green is definitely the style for this season!


Greenify for the Winter Ahead

October 30, 2008

Now that the hot days of summer are past, its time to think about taking care of a few last minute household duties before the cold weather sets in and you want to stay inside to hide.  A good “once over” can Greenify the, home, business, and wallet all at the same time, going into the colder months. 

When was the last time you checked the filters on the furnace?  Dirty filters need to be changed once per month, otherwise they interfere with air flow and cause the furnace to work harder.  Better yet, switch to a permanent filter which will save on effort as well as expense.  Less in the dumpsters is a sign that greenification is at work.

And you know how your car gets a periodic tune-up?  Your furnace needs one, too.  Keeping the furnace clean, lubricated, and operating properly can save you up to 5% per month.  The best news is that many utility companies have repairmen that do such tune-ups for free, but you do have to get in line early because they often get backed up.

Mind that thermostat, too.  For every degree you lower it, you stand to save 1-to-3 percent on your heating bill.

Next check your caulking and weather-stripping.   Simple leaks can suck the life out of energy savings, by draining away 5 to 30%.  It pays to check for leaks around corners, chimneys, where pipes and wires go into the building.  You can do this easily using an incense stick: run a lit stick along the seams and see if the smoke line wavers.  If it does, you could be saving energy and money.

And here’s an old-fashioned idea whose time may come again in this economy: wear a sweater.  Roughly speaking, a light, long sleeved sweater is worth 2 degrees added warmth.  A heavier sweater could add as much as 4 more degrees in warmth.  Which means going green may give you a healthy glow in your pocketbook, too.


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