Thompson Rivers University

Sustainable ways to stay cozy this winter

December 18, 2015

Winter has TRU’s environmental programs and research coordinator James Gordon thinking about his 19th century ancestors, driving a horse and buggy through the ice and snow—no heater, just toques, mitts, scarves, coats, boots and a blanket over their thighs. These days it’s easy to turn up the heat, but there are more sustainable ways to stay cozy and enjoy the season. 

Idle no more

“Instead of warming up your car on a cold morning before getting into it, be as smart as your ancestors were and put on warm clothes,” says Gordon. “Today’s cars only need 10 to 60 seconds of warming up for the engine to run properly.”

Idling actually causes fuel residue build-up in your engine (which can lead to more maintenance costs), in addition to wasting fuel and increasing greenhouse gases. The most effective way to warm your car up is to drive it moderately. And remember, the TRU campus is an Idle-free Zone.

“If you don’t have a garage, find an old towel or blanket to cover your windshield at night,” says Adventure Studies faculty member Craig Campbell. “It will prevent frost build-up, so you won’t need to scrape the frost off in the morning. Therefore you don’t need to idle your car while you scrape.”

Just chill

“Use the great Canadian fridge,” says Diana Skoglund, Marketing and Communications. “If there is a shortage of room in our fridge we make use of the great outdoors. If temperatures are really cold, we use a cooler to insulate from the cold so leftovers and beverages don’t freeze.”

“For mental well-being (the social side of sustainability), my advice is get out and enjoy the snow and fresh air,” says Biology faculty member Susan Purdy. “Especially at night around the neighbourhood, when you see everybody’s lights and Christmas trees in the windows. A sure lift to the spirits!”

“Shutting off the lights and using natural light during the day helps to fight SAD (seasonal affective disorder) as well as saving energy,” says Law student Peggy Mills.

Wear that ugly sweater

Instead of turning up the heat, Cindy Wozney cozies up with a blanket and her extra-large lapdog.

Instead of turning up the heat at home, keep a blanket handy—or snuggle up with a pet, like Cindy Wozney’s extra-large lapdog, Luca Lu.

“We invested in a heat pump about 10 years ago,” says Cindy Wozney, Finance. “During the colder months, we heat the house to 20 Celsius and it is programmed to 19 degrees each night as we sleep. Some may find it cool, but we have lots of blankets tossed on the couches and if you have a big dog to snuggle with (my Lab thinks she’s a lap dog), you can stay nice and toasty warm.”

“Instead of turning up the furnace, I keep my extra layers on indoors, warm up a couple of heat bags for my bed at night and periodically run a small warm air humidifier,” says Christine Weyenberg, program advisor for Social Work and Human Service. She notes you can make your own rice-filled heat bag at home.

Drink responsibly

“Make sure to use your re-usable mug for hot cocoa and coffee,” says Mills. Gift wrap is only one source of avoidable paper waste this season—bring your travel mug for that hot drink to go, and help keep thousands of paper beverage cups, lids and sleeves out of the trash every day.

Visit the Sustainability Office for more sustainability tips, or follow them on Twitter @TRUsustain.

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