How to Take the Natural Approach to Heating Your House This Winter

Keeping your home nice and toasty during winter months can seem like an expensive endeavor. However, there are small things that you can do to improve the heating in your home during the winter. These alterations may require a bit of DIY, but it is possible. Something as simple as maintaining your furnace and HVAC system will provide good air quality in your home, and it will also allow your system to continue to run efficiently.

Improve Insulation and Ventilation

It’s important to make sure your home is properly ventilated as this can affect the insulation. Having a properly ventilated roof reduces indoor temperature extremes. This prevents hot and cold spots that can cause water to freeze beneath your shingles and damage them. When you heat your home in the winter, warm air and moisture rise to the attic. If your attic is not well-ventilated, moisture collects in the attic. The moisture will then seep into your house structure, warping roof materials. When insulating your attic, it is recommended that you have 1 square foot of ventilation for every 300 cubic feet of space in the attic. Penetrations need to be sealed in the attic to stop free airflow. Damaged roof vents should be replaced. Keep attic vents uncovered to avoid moisture issues. For more heavy-duty work and to keep your house heated, put insulation between all of your floor joists in the attic.

Close Your Curtains

Winter curtains are a great tool for receiving insulation during cold months. Double-glazed windows have a lower insulating capacity than an uninsulated wall. They are essentially holes that allow heat to escape your home. Most curtain tracks are open at the top, which means there is a narrow gap that reduces the thermal performance of your curtains. To avoid this, you essentially want to install a pelmet that covers the top of a curtain rail. You also want to use a floor-length curtain. When choosing curtains, you want to pick ones that have at least two layers of fabric. Curtains that fit well and that are layered have a value equal to double glazing.

Caulk Your Gaps

The best way to have a warm home in winter is to limit the amount of draft air that comes into your home. You can use caulk to fill in these gaps. You first need to find the leaks to figure out what you need for ventilation. You typically need half of a cartridge of caulking for each window. For the caulking to be effective, you first need to clean all areas that are going to be caulked, removing old paint and caulking. You also need to dry the area so that you don’t seal in moisture. Try to avoid stops and starts when applying the caulk. Use a putty knife to push in caulk that oozes out of a crack. It is also best to apply the caulk when there is low humidity to prevent cracks.

A lot of issues regarding heat require maintenance. You want to make sure your attic is well-ventilated and insulated. It’s also important to limit the amount of heat that is escaping through your curtains. Finally, you want to find the gaps in your windows and doors, and use caulk to fill in those gaps. Doing so, you’re sure to feel warm and comfortable this winter.

Here’s another article you might find helpful: 4 Hidden Health Hazards Threatening Your Home and Family

Vegans! When is a Vegan not a Vegan?

Veganism can be an emotive topic for many. There are a few definitions floating around the internet but the Vegan Society says it is:

“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

Vegan Society

I do notice the words ‘as far as possible and practical’. The reason I am writing this blog post is that I now identify myself as a Vegan. Some may take umbrage at that because of the way I got here and the reasons I stay vegan.

Duck photo from Pixnio.

I am inherently selfish. There I said it. I am not a vegan for the animals but by being a vegan, I help the animals from exploitation. If it quacks like a duck, talks like a duck, walks like a duck … you know the saying.

Why am I a Vegan?

I have lived with eczema and asthma my whole life. I have been very ill up to the middle of this year in fact. I have been making gradual changes to my life and I have been improving but it wasn’t until five weeks ago that I saw dramatic change. That is when I switched to a plant based diet. It’s not all about a plant based diet though. I wash in olive oil soap (even my hair), my creams consist of coconut milk and I don’t own a leather jacket. I don’t even have a pet! …because you guessed it, I’m allergic to them.

Since I became vegan, my skin has cleared up and I take my asthma pump less. There has been only one hiccup which when I accidentally drank something with lemon in, (I am still very allergic to citrus fruits – veganism can’t help with that one!). I’m unfortunately still recovering from the lemon incident but the effects would have been a lot worse prior to becoming vegan.

There are certain things that vegans believe in or do. I’m going to say where I fit into these categories and I’ll let you see whether you think I qualify for the term vegan!

Beauty

I’ve never agreed with animal testing. It’s not about hurting the animals (although I don’t like it) but I don’t see the point of it. It is illogical. Animals are (obviously) animals and we are humans we are going to have different reactions. On the couple of times in my life that I did check out dubious cosmetics from big brands, I have been allergic to them. Testing on animals is just pointless and cruel for no reason. To be extra, especially honest, I don’t actually wear cosmetics anyway these days. I used to wear it for a job interview or a special night out but since I usually get an allergic reaction regardless of how ethical it was made I tend to avoid it for the most part unless I really, really need to. Those situations are rare.

Some soaps are based on animal products. I just think that’s yucky. You are meant to be washing with it not putting remnants of dead corpses on your bits. I use olive soap for everything. Also, when I clean the house, a far as I know, bleach and vinegar haven’t been near animals either.

Medicines

The Vegan society, say we shouldn’t worry about that one, so I’m not.

Fashion

Let’s be frank here, no one would ever accuse me of being a fashionista. I’m a jeans and long sleeved t-shirt gal. I have never owned a fur coat in my life and I never will. The only thing that might have animal products in, might be my trainers and they feel man made to me. Plus they were bought before I made the decision to be vegan.

Entertainment

I’m not sure how this would apply. I think circus animals have been banned but I haven’t been in a circus since I was 12 anyway. I haven’t been to a zoo since I was a kid but I have been to a safari park (not the hunting kind). I think zoos and safari’s have their place as long as the animals are treated well. In a lot of cases they are dying out in the wild and while I still think they would be better off in their natural habitat, I’d rather they existed than become extinct – with the caveat that they are well looked after.

I think the conservatives aim of bringing back fox hunting is abhorrent and I’m not keen on horse racing. I may have tried my hand at gambling a few years ago but I mainly bet on football teams and they get paid enough to play their games!

Vegan Food

People who eat a plant based diet are called dietary vegans according to Wikipedia. Take off the dietary and you have the word vegans – so I’m laying claim to it. I have been going vegan for a very long time. I used to joke I was either a meat eater or a vegan, there was no middle ground. This is because I am allergic to dairy. There was no way I could become a vegetarian. So, 5 weeks ago I completely eliminated all animal products from my diet. It wasn’t actually hard and I don’t miss it. It was easy at the beginning. I just switched burgers to vegan burgers, sausages to Linda McCartney sausages etc. Now, it is getting harder because I am trying to be more healthy as well as not eating meat, dairy or eggs. I used to like the odd salmon sandwich but that is out as well. Still I am learning every day and there are recipes out there to help us newbies and I’ll get through it. It has helped I’ve been dairy free since I was a child. I can still have my scrumptious raspberry ripple cheesecake.

Christmas as a vegan will be the true test but there is so much food out there that is ready made like Fry’s vegan sausage rolls and I’m dying to try out a nut roast. I’ve known vegetarians who are s-o-o strict the rest of the year but have the ‘end of the roast beef’ during Christmas dinner. I definitely won’t be doing that!

The benefits of being a vegan have been good. My health has improved and my hair is getting thicker. I did lose a bit of weight at the beginning but it has stabilised now which is boring. I think that possibly cutting back on the vegan chocolate might be an idea!

So what do you think, do I qualify? I might not be doing it for the animals but the effect is the same.

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