Tips on How to Stay Warm this Winter
Baby, it’s cold outside, but it’s nice and warm at home. Or, at least it should be.
When the frosty air of winter arrives, cranking up your furnace is only half the battle when it comes to keeping a comfy household. You also need to keep your heating system running efficiently and find hidden weak points in your home that let the cold sneak in.
To keep your home warm this winter doesn’t require a handyman or lots of expensive materials. Luckily, there are a few tips on how to keep your house warm in winter without spending a ton of money. They may not be the prettiest fixes, but they can help you keep that precious warm air inside while keeping the cold out. Plus, you’ll be saving a few bucks on the cost of heating your home.
In this entry, our technitions at J&A South Park have compiled several ways to keep your house warm in winter months without the added cost of major home repairs. You might also be surprised how valuable these frugal-minded tips can be when it comes to saving on your heating bill, too
Let There Be Light
Heat from the sun is free, so make the most of it! The sun is incredibly powerful and by simply opening up your curtains or blinds in all your house’s rooms will provide you with a free source of heat. Even on cold days, the sun is still warm.
Remember to check for obstructions (e.g., plants) that might keep the sun’s rays from reaching your house.
Who’s Afraid of the Dark?
Perhaps one of the most surprising ways to keep you home warm is down to what curtains you have and what you do with them. As mentioned, you should open them on sunny days as a source of heat. When it gets dark, however, make sure you shut your curtains which act as another layer of insulation and keep warmth in your rooms. The thick material helps contain the warmth inside the home and prevent heat from escaping through cold windows.
For maximum effectiveness, make sure your curtains reach the floor and consider a pelmet to cover the space between the window and the curtain. (If you’re like me and don’t know what a “pelmet” is, it’s a framework placed above a window, used to conceal curtain fixtures. These can be used decoratively, to hide the curtain rod, and help insulate the window by preventing convection currents.)
If you’re in a particularly cold house, consider getting insulated drapes for winter use. (Keep in mind you can always change out your lined drapes for a lighter window treatment in the spring and summer.) Insulated drapes prevent some of the warmth in your home from escaping. For even better energy efficiency, you might consider velcroing the drapes to the walls and overlapping the panels where they meet. You can also double hang regular drapes for some of the same thermal benefits. Or, if you’re rather adept at such things, you might just add your own lining to the inside of existing drapes.
Hang a Picture, or Two, or Three . . .
Solid brick or stone walls are better insulators than glass, but they still get cold and let out heat.
Fortunately, you can reduce energy losses by covering your walls with pictures or mirrors. Even a simple poster adds an extra layer of insulation. Framed pictures or mirrors are better, even if a bit more expensive. Unless you’re a medieval baron, you might not have any carpets or tapestries to hang on your walls, however, these would be much more effective!
So, You’re a Bit of a Techie
By installing a programmable thermostat, you can save money on your energy bill by keeping the efficiency high. Instead of having to manually fiddle with your thermostat every time you leave the house or every time you come back, experts recommend programming your thermostat. These are the recommended settings:
68 degrees: Early morning while getting ready for work
60 degrees: While you’re away at your job
68 degrees: When you come home until bedtime
60 degrees: While you’re sleeping
Of course, if someone is home all day, you’ll need to adjust accordingly. And importantly, these are just guidelines. Your house doesn’t care if it’s a bit chilly, but you care if you’re cold. Set the temperatures to what is comfortable to you and your family.
Life Is What You Bake of It
Baking is an incredible way to help distribute heat throughout your house. Using the oven to prepare meals not only accomplishes feeding your family delicious food, but it helps warm up your living space in the process.
After you’ve finished, leave the stove open slightly to let the home get all that wonderful heat. You might even consider leaving the oven on and opening the oven door to let some of that heat into the house. Only leave it on, however, for 10 to 20 minutes so you don’t waste energy.
Invest in a Bit of Aluminum
Here’s a little trick that won’t cost but a few bucks.
Aluminum foil is not only great for packaging food, but also a terrific way to help keep your house insulated from the cold and retain heat. If your house utilizes radiators, place the foil behind them with the purpose of keeping your home warm and not your walls. Aluminum foil will reflect the heat back into your rooms, meaning they warm up faster and retain more heat
Don’t Be a Couch Potato
It might feel great to have your favorite place on the couch in front of the heat vent, but, fact is, it’s absorbing heat that could be warming your house. Blocking heat sources with couches as well as other household pieces, such as shelving, prevents warm air from circulating, causing your home to feel colder than it should.
The same thing goes for your drapes and curtains – keep them away from the heat source so they are not blocking it.
Actually, furniture placement has a direct effect on how you react to the cold. If, for example, your desk is against an external wall, your legs will tend to get cold, though you might consider leaning a cardboard sheet against the wall. Likewise, it the head of your bed is next to a cold external wall you could be prone to getting a stiff neck, though you can counter this somewhat by using a solid headboard.
But, Do Be a Draft Dodger
A draft “excluder” is a tube that is placed at the bottom of a door to help stop hot air from escaping and cold air from entering your home. You can go to a store and purchase one in various forms from animals to colored patterns, and all you need do is place it at the bottom of your door. The ideal place is, of course, at your front door or any other doors that lead to the outside since this is where you’ll lose a lot of heat. Don’t forget about doors that lead to your garage or anywhere else you might be losing heat or letting in cold air.
I Went Window Shopping Today. I Bought Two Windows!
Windows do a great job of keeping unwanted intruders from entering your home, but sometimes they can fail us in keeping cold air from entering. Make sure all your windows are properly closed. This includes making sure all storm windows are installed and closed in place if you have them. If you don’t have storm windows, consider using a window winterizing kit to create temporary storm windows – they’re plastic sheets that tape to the inside of the window to help seal out cold air. You can find them at most any hardware or home-improvement store and they’ll likely save far more fossil fuel than it took to make them.
Air moving in and out of a house through cracks and holes around your windows is commonly referred to as air leaks or drafts. If you feel drafts around your windows, you are losing heat there in the winter. Even if you don’t feel a draft, you may still have air leakage around your windows.
Inspect around the frames of each window for cracks or gaps or deteriorating caulking, rotting wood and cracked or missing glass. Repair or replace rotted wood frames and seal or replace cracked or broken glass. You might not think a little crack here and a draft there is a big deal, but these crevices can cause you to spend a lot more than you need on your heating bills, as well as keeping your home from warming.
If caulking around your windows needs replacing, thoroughly dig out the old caulking with a putty knife or screwdriver, clean and dry it before re-caulking with an appropriate compound for caulking windows, Remember, the temperature should be above 45 degrees F. and humidity should be low for caulking to cure properly.
You can also consider sealing or slowing air leaks around your windows, as well as doors and thresholds, with the proper installation of weather stripping. Weather stripping comes in felt, open-cell foam, different types of metal and vinyl. The application and your skill level may determine which type you ultimately choose. Some may be visible when the windows are closed, so you might want to also consider its appearance.
Q: What Did the Rug Say to the Floor?
A: Don’t Worry, I’ve Got You Covered!
When assuring that your home is ready for winter and that you aren’t losing heat unnecessarily, don’t forget to look down. If you do so, you might notice that you have floorboards. If so, you should consider getting a rug to cover them during the colder months. Floorboards contribute to hot air escaping your house and cold air invading. You need not carpet your entire house, but an occasional rug can make a huge difference.
If you’ve got rugs in your bedrooms, office spaces or other areas that you don’t use regularly, you might also want to consider moving them to more common areas. Layering the floor with rugs and carpets helps to maintain the temperature and the warmth of a room.
Stop the Draft, Close the Door
The closed door makes that unused room another barrier between you and the frigid outdoors. It also stops air from circulating as much, which reduces heat loss.
You can also use magnetic register covers to “shut off” forced air furnace registers in unused rooms. That way, when the heater does click on, only the registers in rooms you use will pump out heat. This makes for more efficient use of the heater. Check that all heat registers are adjusted open. Also make sure to unblock any cold air returns in heated rooms so heat can circulate efficiently.
Here’s the Spin on Ceiling Fans
Now here is an interesting fact. Most ceiling fans have a “winter setting.”
We know that ceiling fans cool down your home in the summer. But are you aware that you use these same fans to your advantage during the winter? Try turning your fan clockwise, or the reverse direction used during warmer months. This can be done by flipping the switch on a ceiling fan’s cylinder. Heat rises, so as the fans turn the opposite direction, the heat stored up in the ceiling will be pushed down into the room.
Some experts don’t trust the efficacy of doing this, as the fan may just cool the air too much, but try it out on a low speed and see if it helps warm the room.
For more tips, or perhaps to schedule a check-up on your furnace, don’t hesitate to contact your heating specialists at J&A South Park.