Winterize your home and still be 'green'

OAK PARK, Ill. Deb Wolkstein of Oak Park knows that every penny counts when it comes to saving energy. So she covers her windows with plastic film and seals it with the heat from a blow dryer. It's an inexpensive way to stop drafts.

"We do put plastic over a lot of our windows, some on the inside, some on the outside trying to save energy, allowing us to keep our thermostat at a lower setting," Wolkstein explained. "It makes it more comfortable for us, but also saves energy and saves money."

Wolkstein also inserts foam under electrical outlets and light switch covers, which can also contribute to heat loss. These items are just two of the simple solutions Maria Onesto Moran suggests. She's the owner of The Green Home Experts store in Oak Park.

"Something that a lot of people don't think about is actually getting what's like a blanket for their hot water heater and it's something that basically just wraps around the appliance and it insulates the appliance so you're not getting as much energy loss. You can save about five dollars a month by doing this," said Onesta Moran.

Caulking cracks around windows and doors is also a good idea. The products this store carries do not contain formaldehyde, which the owner says contributes to indoor air pollution.

For those willing to take on a larger project, installing insulation made from recycled denim instead of standard fiberglass is recommended.

"The trick is that it doesn't contain any toxic chemicals and it's very user-friendly. You certainly couldn't handle fiberglass the way I'm handling this," said Onesta Moran.

Earth-shades window treatments made from sustainably-grown grasses and fitted with an optional cotton liner can also help retain a home's desired temperature.

Onesto Moran explained, "It's important to remember that while we are concerned about conserving energy in the wintertime, these are changes that are going to work year-round."

For the Wolksteins, winterizing their home and protecting the planet both go hand in hand.

"Some things as far as winterizing, we hope will save some money, but the bigger picture is the long term effects on the environment and the health of our family," stated Wolkstein.

Conserving energy is one of the easiest ways to help the environment while easing your bottom line.

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