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When we think about what we need to do about the environment, we should take time to pat the backs of those who have made sweeping changes in the last hundred years. The reason London was foggy in the old days was due to the smog created by coal burning furnaces. The air is much cleaner there today because of cleaner heating sources.
Heating and air-conditioning has seen fit on its own as an industry to make changes over the years that contribute to cleaner air and more economical use. Both gas and electric heating systems have improved and industry experts keep trying to find better ways to make our homes comfortable and with less energy consumption.
Before there was any protocol requiring changes to be made, the HVAC industry began to reduce and then eliminate the use of CFCs and HFCs, which damaged the ozone layer.
What You Can Do to Make a Difference
With the industry taking the lead, we should help the situation ourselves by the lifestyles that we maintain. One of the ways to make a difference is with a smart thermostat that reduces the running time of the system. It costs a little more than a simple on/off control, but it can save money when it is used the right way.
A thermostat designed to lower the temperature setting after everyone has gone to bed and then bring it back up before they get up can amount to real savings. The trick is not to set it too low, but just a few degrees that won't allow the air to become cold.
The same temperature adjustment should be made for times when no one is at home. If everyone leaves the house in the morning and doesn't come back until afternoon, there isn't much need of keeping the house toasty warm throughout the day. A family vacation is an excellent time to have the thermostat adjust up or down according to the season.
Many people overheat their homes in the winter because they don't have good air circulation, which causes cold spots. Fans can be used to keep the air moving and level out the temperatures. When the whole house is the same temperature, you can actually get by with lower temperatures and still be comfortable.
The use of heavy thermal curtains on windows is another way to cut down drafts and cold infiltration. During the day, they should be left open to allow in heat from the sun, then after dark they should be closed to help insulate the home.