SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah’s winter pollution intensifies, there are simple and cheap things Utahns can do inside their homes to cut down on personal emissions and trim energy bills at the same time.
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality shared seven tips to help weatherize your home for winter and choose clean air.
“There are a lot of things you can do before winter gets started to make sure that your home is as efficient as possible and that you cut back on the emissions that are coming out of your home,” said Jared Mendenhall, a public information specialist with the Utah DEQ.
Tail pipes put out more pollution than homes, so people tend to focus on that more often. However, when homes are winterized, it cuts harmful emissions and cuts energy bills.
Cars pump out half of winter pollution. Homes and small businesses contribute 40 percent.
“That’s each of us, every day, running furnaces and snow blowers and hot water heaters,” Mendenhall said. “Making those as efficient as possible is going to limit those emissions.”
1. Don’t burn wood
This is the top winterizing tip from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
“This is just unfiltered, straight smoke,” said Mendenhall, pointing toward the fireplace. “This is the fine particulates that get out and get into people’s lungs.”
2. Stop the leaks around doors and windows
“The best thing to do — it’s cheap — is to make sure the seal around your windows and doors are good,” he said. “Go out to the hardware store, get a tube of caulk and make sure that there aren’t any leaks.”
3. Swap out your filters
Inefficient furnaces and water heaters both waste energy and add to personal emissions. With your furnace, make sure that you’re changing out the filter on a regular basis.
4. Turn down your water temperature
With the water heater, dial the heat down from 140 degrees to 120 degrees. You probably won’t notice it in the tub, but you will notice it on your bill.
5. Get a smart thermostat
With a smart or programmable thermostat, you can dial down the heat while you’re away.
6. Keep your house clean
Indoor air, in general, is cleaner than outdoor air. However, a clean house makes a difference in the air we breathe.
“Once you have it all sealed up tight, there is potential that your indoor air quality can suffer,” Mendenhall said. “So you’ll want to keep your house clean. Make sure that your rugs and floors are clean.”
7. Get some house plants
They help remove indoor air pollutants, too.
“Once you get your house more efficient and winterized, you’re going to use less energy,” Mendenhall said. “That’s going to save you money on the utility bills.”