For the average 16 hours in our day when we aren’t sleeping, our bedrooms shouldn’t be a burden to our energy bill. And for those eight or so hours each day when we are sleeping, our bodies need a safe and comfortable place to rejuvenate.
- Bedrooms are primarily for sleeping, so large bedrooms are usually a waste of space and resources. If building, save money and materials by planning appropriately sized bedrooms. That especially goes for the master “suite” which is often over-sized for no good reason.
- Most people don’t spend much time in the bedroom during the day, so there’s really no need to heat or cool our bedrooms all day long. (The exception would be a nursery.) If you’re building a home, put bedrooms on a separate zone and don’t heat or cool these spaces during the day. If your home is on one zone, close vents and doors to rooms that will be unoccupied all day and don’t start reheating or recooling them until one hour before you plan on retiring for the evening.
- Take a look at your furniture. It should not be impeding air flow from registers and baseboard heaters.
- At night, set the thermostat to a conservative temperature which is adequate for sleeping: 58 to 62 degrees F in winter and 78 to 82 degrees F in the summer.
- The air in your bedroom is especially important since you breathe it in for 6 – 10 hours a night. To protect the quality of indoor air, use zero-VOC paints and finishes on your walls, trim and furniture. Select bedding and window treatments that have not been treated with off-gasing chemicals. And wash your linens in non-toxic, unscented laundry detergent. If you feel you might benefit from an air filter or purifier in the bedroom, do your research before buying. There are different technologies, each with their own strengths and weaknesses–and price points. Air purifier buying guide.
Hot weather tips…
- A ceiling fan in the bedroom can help you sleep without the use of the AC at night.
- Don’t let bedrooms overheat in the late afternoon sun–heat that will still be felt long after the sun has gone down. Close all blinds and curtains in bedrooms that have South and West-facing windows each morning. After dark, when and if the outside temperature dips below 82 degrees, open the blinds and windows to let naturally cooler air in.
Cold weather tips…
- On overcast days keep shades closed in bedrooms to reduce the radiation of cold air through window glass from entering the room. This may not be necessary if you have energy efficient windows.
- On sunny days, open shades in South and West-facing bedrooms. The sun’s heat will warm the walls and windows outside and some of this heat energy will transfer to the interior unless your walls have etremely high insulation values. Close curtains and shades after sundown to trap heat in the home and reduce the amount of heat your heating appliance will have to make to keep the rooms comfortable.
- If crawling between cold sheets is your idea of torture, an electric heating blanket will be your best friend. It will also permit you to keep your bedroom colder. No need to over-heat ambient air when all the comfort you need is wrapped around you! Preheat your bed, and then turn off AND unplug an electric blanket before tucking yourself in. Even turned off, electric blankets can emit electromagnetic fields, so go the extra step and unplug it as well. (see Elecromaganetic Radiation below)
Electronics in our homes emit electromagnetic fields (EMFs) which contain radiation. Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation is emitted by power lines, computers, TVs, and other electronics. Microwave radiation is emitted by wireless devices. Both ELF and microwave radiation is non-ionizing meaning they don’t have enough energy to directly damage DNA. However, concerns have been raised about a possible link between some types of non-ionizing radiation and cancer.
The strength of an electromagnetic field is measured in Gauss. If you sleep with a digital alarm clock, cell phone and computer in your bedroom, the combined Gauss they send out equals approximately 126 milligauss (.126 Gauss). Typical safety guidelines are between 0.6 and 3 milligauss, so clearly the electronics we surround ourselves with put us at greater risk for health related problems stemming from the radiation they send out. Although most studies in adults have not found links between electromagnetic fields and cancer, several studies have found a link between EMFs and childhood cancers such as leukemia. Other adverse health effects being studied for their link to chronic exposure to EMFs include fetus abnormalities, neurodegenerative diseases and cardiac abnormalities.
The electronics craze isn’t going away, so all we can realistically do is manage our exposure better. Putting more distance between us and the devices that produce EMFs is a start.
- Relocate a computer, printer and other electronic office equipment to a workspace outside the bedroom. Plug all devices into a powerstrip and cut its power at night.
- Leave your cell phone outside the bedroom or several feet away from your bed. Turn it off at night if you won’t need it.
- If particularly concerned about EMF exposure at night. Switch off the breaker in the circuit box that feeds your bedroom. Make sure this won’t interrupt power to vital home systems that might be tied into the same breaker.
- Arrange furniture so electrical outlets in the bedroom are at least four feet from your body as you sleep.
- If you have wireless devices, turn them off whenever you aren’t using them.